Concerned about recent PAN-OS and other firewall/VPN CVEs? Take advantage of Zscaler’s special offer today

Zscaler Blog

Get the latest Zscaler blog updates in your inbox

Security Research

Working together to understand the threat landscape


As a society, we are more connected than ever before. Our community is no longer just the people living nearby. It is now a global community, made up of disparate individuals connected not by proximity but by the internet.

As in almost any community, crime is a factor. In today’s digital society, that means cybercriminals, and they seem to be launching new attacks every day.

These cybercriminals have gone from lone hackers to sophisticated criminal organizations, launching attacks on individuals, corporations, and governments. As these criminals have become more organized, the challenge in fighting them has become more difficult. If the cybercriminals are working together to increase their chances of success, it makes sense that those who fight these bad actors should also work together.

Today, Verizon released its 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, and I am proud that the Zscaler ThreatLabZ team once again actively contributed to the findings in this report.

The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report takes an in-depth look at security incidents and data breaches that occurred in 2018. The report analyzes 41,686 security incidents, of which 2,013 were confirmed data breaches. It looks at how the results have or have not changed over the years and digs into the overall threat landscape and the actors, actions, and assets that are present in breaches.

The report delves into security incident patterns and describes how they correlate to the various industry verticals. In addition to these primary patterns, the report includes a subset of data to pull out financially motivated social engineering (FMSE) attacks, which are more focused on credential theft and duping people into transferring money into adversary-controlled accounts.

Among the findings, the report revealed that 43 percent of data breaches occurred at small businesses, which tend to have less stringent security than larger organizations, making them an easier target. The most common tactic used in breaches was hacking (52 percent of the time), while errors (21 percent) and misuse by authorized users (15 percent) also led to breaches. And, as can be expected, financial gain was the most common motivation (71 percent).

These results, and the others detailed in the report, are based on data collected from a variety of sources, including publicly disclosed security incidents, cases provided by the Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center (VTRAC) investigators, and external collaborators, such as ThreatLabZ. The year-to-year data includes new sources of incident and breach data as more organizations share information to improve the diversity and coverage of real-world events.

The number of organizations providing data continues to grow, with 66 organizations external to Verizon now contributing to this report. This community of data contributors represents an international group of public and private entities that understand the importance of sharing information to gain a better understanding of the threats we all face on a daily basis.

This is the second consecutive year that Zscaler has provided transaction data for the report. The ThreatLabZ team examined transactions processed in the Zscaler cloud during 2018, specifically looking for attempted phishing attacks and blocked malware. We also offered insights into each threat category with supporting telemetry information indicating the number of users affected by these security incidents and data breaches.

It is heartening to see so many organizations coming together to share information in an ongoing effort to secure the internet and this digital world in which we all participate. Unfortunately, cybercriminals will continue developing new threats and attack methods, as long as there’s a potential payoff. And, since there is no sign of attackers stopping any time soon, it is up to all of us working in the cloud and cybersecurity industries to work together to make their job a lot more difficult.

I think Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the 14th President of the Philippines, said it very well: “The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.”

Download the entire Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report.

Read more from the ThreatLabZ team.

Read about Zscaler cloud security here.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Deepen Desai is vice president of security research at Zscaler 

form submtited
Thank you for reading

Was this post useful?

dots pattern

Get the latest Zscaler blog updates in your inbox

By submitting the form, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.