Innovative analysis of data breaches shows which attack vectors are being used and how they’re enabled, highlighting the roles phishing and credentials play.

With the release of the new 2024 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, we dug into the findings to continue our coverage of important cybersecurity issues, specifically data breaches and phishing.

The report offers fresh insights and perspectives, which are critical to understanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Traditionally, we’ve seen this report talk about action varieties with phishing as an example, and specific attack vectors (e.g., web applications), but this latest report takes things a step further and combines them to provide InfoSec professionals with a new perspective on where the real problems lie with attacks that lead to data breaches.

As you can see from the table in the blog post, credentials and phishing are present in three of the top four attack combinations.

The combination of credentials and web applications in the top spot aligns with the growth and evolution we’ve seen in the “credential cyber-economy” of late, where credentials are obtained using impersonated brand login pages and then sold on the dark web. According to the report, credentials are compromised in 71% of web application attacks.

Phishing involves email, but it’s interesting to see it take second place when the top initial attack vector for credential harvesting attacks is actually phishing (meaning behind the top entry is a string of phishing attacks that enabled that attack combination).

Jumping down to the fourth and fifth spots, we see that credentials continue to play a role in attack vectors involving desktop-sharing software and VPNs.

In total, we see credentials and phishing involved in nearly 80% of data breaches, making the combination of email, social engineering and your users the most critical aspect of your cybersecurity strategy.

A combination of layered security solutions and new-school security awareness training is what’s needed to shore up the insecurity demonstrated by the overwhelming evidence provided in Verizon’s latest report.

KnowBe4 empowers your workforce to make smarter security decisions every day. Over 65,000 organizations worldwide trust the KnowBe4 platform to strengthen their security culture and reduce human risk.


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