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2022 Verizon DBIR (Data Breach Investigations Report) Key Takeaway

As malicious actors have advanced technologically and are finding new ways to infiltrate network systems globally, organizations need to respond accordingly by enhancing their knowledge and capabilities. 

The Verizon DBIR (Data Breach Investigations Report) has played a significant role in raising awareness among the workforce about the importance of maintaining cybersecurity hygiene. Below is a summary of the 2022 DBIR that helps organizations understand the essence of the report and equip themselves with better strategies to thwart cyberattacks and safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their critical information assets.

Some Important Verizon DBIR 2022 Findings

The Verizon 2022 DBIR is an exhaustive report running more than 100 pages. Its 15th annual edition, DBIR 2022, is the most comprehensive report presented by Verizon since the first one in 2008. It analyzes 5,212 breaches in 2021 spread across eleven industrial sectors distributed in four regions globally. Below is the outline of the critical findings from the report that merit immediate consideration.

  1. Gateways that allow access: The DBIR has pointed out four significant gateways that enable malicious actors to infiltrate network systems and cause data breaches. They are:

    • Credential Theft

    • Phishing

    • Exploiting vulnerabilities

    • Botnets

No organization is safe without formulating a robust plan for handling these four compromising gateways.

  1. Ransomware’s continued growth: Ransomware continues to be a significant threat to organizations worldwide. It showed around a 13% increase last year, equivalent to the previous five years’ combined rise. Thus, it has increased by around 25% over those years combined. However, organizations can block ransomware by taking proper care of the four gateways discussed above, as the threat uses these gateways to access network systems.

  2. Supply Chain Attacks on the rise: The DBIR hints toward one significant supply chain attack that had an enormous impact. Though the report does not name the attack, it points toward the Solar Winds Supply Chain attack. As per the report, the supply chain area became responsible for 62% of last year’s system intrusions. 

  3. The internal element is still involved: The DBIR states that one cannot ignore internal involvement in data breaches. While external players comprise 80% of bad actors, the breaches caused by internal actors have been more significant, with an average breach impacting ten times more than an external one.

  4. The motive behind cyber crimes: The DBIR concludes that financial gain remains the primary motive behind 96% of cyber incidents and data breaches.

In a nutshell, the deduction will be as follows.

  • Ransomware attacks are increasing by the day.

  • Supply chain attacks are evolving into a significant threat.

  • Malicious actors and not human error cause more data breaches.

  • Cybercrime has become a significant money-spinning industry.

Eight Critical Threat Patterns Pointed out by the Report

The report highlights eight threat patterns responsible for almost all security breaches. Organizations must concentrate on these eight patterns while formulating defense strategies.

  1. System Intrusion 

System Intrusion is a complex attack pattern where malicious actors infiltrate the victim’s network systems using malware or complex intrusion techniques. Ransomware is the prime example of compromising systems and disrupting businesses for financial gains.

The DBIR mentions 7,013 incidents, of which 1,999 resulted in confirmed data breaches. Mostly, the bad actors exploited C2 (Command and Control) or a backdoor entry and included ransomware. Among the confirmed data breaches, 42% compromised credentials, while 37% compromised personal data. Besides, the report talks of increasing supply chain attack incidents.

  1. Social Engineering

Social Engineering attacks comprise the human element involved in cyber incidents. As per DBIR, about 82% of data breaches involve a human angle. It reports 2,249 social engineering attack incidents resulting in 1,063 confirmed data breaches. Furthermore, 63% of the violations compromised credentials, whereas 32% resulted in internal data loss. The primary attack modes were phishing and BEC (Business Email Compromise).

  1. Denial of Services

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are among the oldest attack patterns where the cyber attackers simultaneously target the network and application layers to increase traffic and compromise the application’s availability. The primary objective of the DDoS attack is to disrupt business and not steal data. The DBIR 2022 lists 8,456 disruptions, including four cases compromising information assets.  

  1. Privilege Misuse 

Privilege misuse is a dangerous trend because it compromises the trust element that employers have with their employees. Here, the malicious actors misuse their privileges and cause data breaches solely for financial gain. All of these attacks involve internal actors, with DBIR reporting 4% involving external collaboration. DBIR highlights 275 incidents resulting in 216 confirmed data breaches; 78% of such attacks are carried out for financial gain and the remaining are due to ulterior grudges, espionage, and convenience. 

  1. Basic Web Application (BWA) Attacks

The BWA attacks are similar to hit-and-run cases where the threat actors target a specific web application, compromise it, collect as much data as possible, and abandon the system. The DBIR lists 4,751 such instances culminating in 1,273 data breaches. 69% of these breaches compromised personal information and 67% credentials. Usually, the malicious actors exploit a known vulnerability in the system or use brute force to access it and compromise the information assets.

  1. Miscellaneous Errors

Miscellaneous errors generally constitute unintentional actions that directly compromise the information asset’s integrity. These could be errors like misconfiguring an asset or unwittingly sending information to the wrong person. Usually, internal employees are involved in such cases. The DBIR lists 715 such incidents, with nearly all resulting in compromising information assets, primarily personal data.  

  1. Lost and Stolen Assets

Such attack patterns involve losing track of a specific information asset. At times, there can be theft of sensitive data. The DBIR mentions 885 incidents in this category, involving 85% internal threat actors. It included 81 data breach incidents, and the stolen devices were mostly documents, desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. 

  1. Everything Else 

This section covers the incidents that do not fit into the seven patterns described above. Though the DBIR has not listed any incident in this category, it has included it in the report for organizations to introspect.

Final Words

Verizon’s DBIR is a comprehensive report that provides a wealth of information about the different types of threats in today’s cybersecurity landscape. The report highlights how security-related incidents occur and thus, helps organizations to formulate a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. As it has systematically classified the various threat factors, it is easy for organizations to verify which security control they are deficient in and which attack vectors they need to be cautious about most. They can then improve the safeguards to ensure their valuable information assets’ confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

#verizon #vicarius_blog


  1. Verizon. Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) – 2022. 

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