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Verizon report analysis: Money not espionage at the heart of cyber-crime breaches

SC Media

Financial gain remains the key motivation for cybercrime despite extensive media coverage of espionage, accounting for 86 percent of breaches investigated in the Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).

The vast majority of breaches continue to be caused by external actors - 70 percent - with organised crime accounting for 55 percent of these.

Credential theft and social attacks such as phishing and business email compromises cause the majority of breaches (more than 67 percent).

Thirty percent of credential theft breaches used stolen or weak credentials and 25 percent involved phishing while human error accounted for 22 percent.


  • DBIR data continues to show that external actors are - and always have been - more common. Some 70 percent of breaches this past year were caused by outsiders. 
  • While espionage grabs the headlines, it accounts for just 10 percent of breaches in the data for this year. Some 86 percent of breaches continue to be financially motivated. Advanced threats account for just four percent of breaches. 


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