Data Security: Who's Stealing Your Stuff?Data Security: Who's Stealing Your Stuff?
According to Verizon's annual Data Breach Investigation Report, it's not the NSA or even a sys admin with superuser privileges like Edward Snowden that's the biggest threat.
July 15, 2013
OK, I'll admit it. I've had a strange fascination with the Edward Snowden story. I hasten to add that it's not because of the supposedly startling revelations about NSA snooping. I and many others pointed out some time ago that this was the logical outcome of the various anti-terrorism laws passed by Congress. I'm fascinated by how lax data security is at the National Security Agency.
The idea that a low-level contract admin, with only three months on the job, could abscond with four laptops loaded with highly classified information boggles my mind. I mean, your organization is a whole lot more secure, isn't it?
I was going to ask you that question, but it turns out that someone is already doing that. Verizon compiles an annual Data Breach Investigation Report in cooperation with 18 governmental and private organizations:
Australian Federal Police
CERT Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University
Consortium for Cybersecurity Action
Danish Ministry of Defence's Center for Cybersecurity
Danish National Police National IT Investigation Section
Dutch Police National High Tech Crime Unit
Electricity Sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center
European Cyber Crime Center
G-C Partners LLC
Spain's Guardia Civil Cybercrime Central Unit
Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team
Irish Reporting and Information Security Service
Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team
National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team
US Secret Service
The 2013 report (for incidents in 2012) covers more than 47,000 reported security incidents, 621 confirmed data disclosures, and at least 44 million compromised records. Remember that these are only the incidents that have been discovered (the report says 66 percent of breaches take "months or more" to discover) and reported (not everyone is willing to step up and say they've been breached).
The good news, in light of Snowden-like attacks, is that 92 percent of the confirmed data breaches (571, by my math) can be traced to outsiders. Don't feel too smug, though; 69 percent of the security incidents (32,430, again, by my math) can be traced to insiders.
Speaking of insiders, I hope you're clamping down on sys admins and other IT personnel with superuser privileges, but according to the report, you might be looking in the wrong place. "Data theft involving programmers, administrators, or executives certainly makes for interesting anecdotes, but is still less common in our overall dataset than incidents driven by employees with little to no technical aptitude or organizational power."
Sys admins were at fault in only 16 percent of the incidents, while 57 percent were attributable to end users. How do you spot the potential security threats among your employees?
"The CERT Insider Threat Center at the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute has produced a body of research on the malicious insiders and their behavioral characteristics. According to their research, insiders intent on or considering malicious actions often exhibit identifiable characteristics and/or warning signs before engaging in those acts."
Here are some of the warning signs Verizon cited.
More than 30% of insiders engaging in IT sabotage had a prior arrest history. Note, however, this statistic may not be meaningful. For instance, a 2011 study found approximately 30% of U.S. adults have been arrested by age 23.
Exhibiting concerning behaviors at work like bragging about the damage they could do to the organization if they so desired. This is often traced to a catalyst event like being passed over for promotion.
Utilizing the organization's resources for a side business or having serious conversations with coworkers about starting a competing business.
Attempting to gain employees' passwords or to obtain access through trickery or exploitation of a trusted relationship (often called "social engineering").
In more than 70% of IP theft cases, insiders steal the information within 30 days of announcing their resignation. Changes in the pattern or quantity of information retrievals in that timeframe are potential indicators.
More than half of insiders committing IT sabotage were former employees who regained access via backdoors or corporate accounts that were never disabled.
Recognize any of that behavior?
There's a whole lot more in the report, including the methods used for breaches, incidents by market sector, and sources of state-sponsored breaches. You can download your own copy, but I'll warn you not to read it just before going to bed. It will cause nightmares.
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like
Hacking Your Digital Identity: How Cybercriminals Can and Will Get Around Your Authentication MethodsOct 26, 2023
Modern Supply Chain Security: Integrated, Interconnected, and Context-DrivenNov 06, 2023
How to Combat the Latest Cloud Security ThreatsNov 06, 2023
Reducing Cyber Risk in Enterprise Email Systems: It's Not Just Spam and PhishingNov 01, 2023
SecOps & DevSecOps in the CloudNov 06, 2023
How to Deploy Zero Trust for Remote Workforce Security
What Ransomware Groups Look for in Enterprise Victims
How to Use Threat Intelligence to Mitigate Third-Party Risk
Concerns Mount Over Ransomware, Zero-Day Bugs, and AI-Enabled Malware
Securing the Remote Worker: How to Mitigate Off-Site Cyberattacks
9 Traits You Need to Succeed as a Cybersecurity Leader
The Ultimate Guide to the CISSP
Quantifying the Gap Between Perceived Security and Comprehensive MITRE ATT&CK Coverage
The Evolving Ransomware Threat: What Business Leaders Should Know About Data Leakage
Managed Security and the 3rd Party Cyber Risk Opportunity Whitepaper