C-level executives, who have access to a company’s most sensitive data, are now the major focus for hackers, with bosses 12 times more likely to be targeted than other staff in the business.
That is one worrying new trend highlighted in the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, which collates information from more than 2,000 confirmed breaches that hit large and small organisations all over the world.
It also analyses information about more than 40,000 incidents such as malware campaigns and web attacks. The report shows that attacks on senior executives can reap large dividends as a result of their privileged access into critical systems, as well as their often unchallenged authority.
Typically time-starved and under pressure to deliver, senior executives quickly review and click on emails prior to moving on to the next - or have assistants managing email on their behalf - meaning rogue emails are more likely to get through.
It also shows that cyberattacks by nation states and parties affiliated with them represented 23% of data breaches, up from 12% in 2018 and 19% in 2017.
Financially-motivated attacks (12% of all data breaches analysed) are a key topic in this year’s report, highlighting the critical need to ensure all levels of employees are made aware of the potential impact of cybercrime.
Verizon Global Enterprise president George Fischer said: “[Businesses] are increasingly using edge-based applications to deliver credible insights and experience. Supply chain data, video, and other critical - often personal - data will be assembled and analysed at eye-blink speed, changing how applications utilise secure network capabilities. Security must remain front and centre when implementing these new applications and architectures.
“Technical IT hygiene and network security are table stakes when it comes to reducing risk. It all begins with understanding your risk posture and the threat landscape, so you can develop and action a solid plan to protect your business against the reality of cybercrime."