IBM Security released the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020, highlighting how cybercriminals’ techniques have evolved after decades of access to tens of billions of corporate and personal records and hundreds of thousands of software flaws. According to the report, 60% of initial entries into victims’ networks that were observed leveraged either previously stolen credentials or known software vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to rely less on deception to gain access.
IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index highlights contributing factors to this evolution, including the top three initial attack vectors:
• Phishing was a successful initial infection vector in less than one-third of incidents (31%) observed, compared to half in 2018.
• Scanning and exploitation of vulnerabilities resulted in 30% of observed incidents, compared to just 8% in 2018. In fact, older, known vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office and Windows Server Message Block were still finding high rates of exploitation in 2019.
• The use of previously stolen credentials is also gaining ground as a preferred point-of-entry 29% of the time in observed incidents. Just in 2019, the report states more than 8.5 billion records were compromised— resulting in a 200% increase in exposed data reported year over year, adding to the growing number of stolen credentials that cybercriminals can use as their source material.
“The amount of exposed records that we’re seeing today means that cybercriminals are getting their hands on more keys to our homes and businesses. Attackers won’t need to invest time to devise sophisticated ways into a business; they can deploy their attacks simply by using known entities, such as logging in with stolen credentials,” said Wendi Whitmore, Vice President, IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence. “Protection measures, such as multi-factor authentication and single sign-on, are important for the cyber resilience of organizations and the protection and privacy of user data.”
IBM X-Force conducted its analysis based on insights and observations from monitoring 70 billion security events per day in more than 130 countries. In addition, data is gathered and analyzed from multiple sources including X-Force IRIS, X-Force Red, IBM Managed Security Services, and publicly disclosed data breach information. IBM X-Force also runs thousands of spam traps around the world and monitors tens of millions of spam and phishing attacks daily while analyzing billions of web pages and images to detect fraudulent activity and brand abuse.