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Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report offers advice on cybercrime

Each year, Verizon issues its Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), providing a view into the current world of cybercrime. The report discusses what you need to know about the latest threats and tips for how to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

As cybercriminals continue to change their approaches, cyber-espionage and ransomware attacks continue to rise. The report outlines how cyber-espionage cases originate from phishing emails, while ransomware involves a type of malware and aims to extort money from its victims.

The report highlights how people are still falling for phishing, the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and indirectly money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

This year's DBIR found that around 1 in 14 users were tricked into following a link or opening an attachment-and a quarter of those went on to be duped more than once. In addition, 80 percent of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen passwords and/or weak or guessable passwords.

The report adds that pretexting is on the rise, which is predominantly targeted at financial department employees - the ones who hold the keys to money transfers. Email was the top communication vector, accounting for 88 percent of financial pretexting incidents, with phone communications in second place with just under 10 percent. Furthermore, smaller organizations are also a target. 61 percent of victims analyzed were businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.

How can you help prevent from becoming a victim? The report advises people to stay vigilant; keep data access on a "need to know" basis; protect sensitive data by encrypting it (translating it into a private code) that can only be unlocked with a secret password; and adding an extra layer of security by using two steps to verify your identity - such as a password and a text message.

In its 10th year, the DBIR compiles data from 65 organizations across the world and continues to be one of the industry's most respected sources of information. The report includes analysis of 42,068 incidents and 1,935 breaches from 84 countries.