A Deep Dive into the Verizon 2023 DBIR Report: Human Error, Ransomware, and Log4j Exploits

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Jun 07, 2023 02:30 am PST

The Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) presents a comprehensive analysis of global data breaches, offering valuable insights into the contemporary state of cybersecurity threats. In this analysis, we will delve into key findings from the report, including the prevalent role of human error, persistent threat of ransomware, and the impact of the Log4j vulnerability.

Human Error and Social Engineering

According to the DBIR report, human error is involved in 74% of all breaches, encompassing errors, privilege misuse, use of stolen credentials, and social engineering incidents. The ubiquity of human error emphasizes the importance of focusing on people as a vital aspect of cybersecurity efforts.

Notably, the report highlights the surge in Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks, which have nearly doubled across the entire dataset. Such attacks exemplify the effectiveness of social engineering, now accounting for over 50% of incidents within the Social Engineering pattern.

These findings underline the urgent need for organizations to invest in user awareness and training to mitigate vulnerabilities. Effective training programs can help personnel recognize threats, bolster their defense against social engineering attacks, and prevent data breaches.

External Actors Remain the Dominant Threat

The report finds that 83% of breaches involve external actors, with 95% of incidents driven by financial motivations. Direct access to organizations is primarily orchestrated through three channels: stolen credentials, phishing, and exploitation of vulnerabilities.

Given this landscape, organizations must prioritize securing access points, enhancing their response to phishing attacks, and ensuring timely patching of vulnerabilities across their infrastructure. Focusing on both internal and external threat vectors will reinforce organizational defenses against the persistent onslaught of financially motivated cyberattacks.

Ransomware Holds Steady

Ransomware remains a prominent action type in breaches, with a stable presence at 24% in the DBIR report. The persistent threat of ransomware underscores its ubiquity among organizations of varying sizes and industries. While ransomware itself did not grow, this continued prevalence highlights the need for tailored response plans and robust backup strategies to reduce potential ransomware damages.

The Log4j Vulnerability

The DBIR report points to the alarming speed with which the Log4j vulnerability was targeted. Over 32% of all scanning activity over the year transpired within 30 days of its release, reaching its peak in only 17 days. This rapid exploitation of Log4j demonstrates the urgency with which organizations must tackle emerging vulnerabilities.

The report further states that 90% of incidents with “Exploit vuln” as an action featuring “Log4j” or “CVE-2021-44228” in the comments section. However, only 20.6% of incidents had any comments, indicating that the true prevalence of the Log4j exploit in breaches might be much higher than initially apparent.


The Verizon 2023 DBIR report illuminates several critical takeaways for organizations:

  1. Human error remains a significant vulnerability, requiring increased user awareness and training to reduce breaches resulting from social engineering and privilege misuse.
  2. External actors still represent the lion’s share of incidents, emphasizing the need for robust access controls and improved phishing defenses.
  3. Ransomware threats endure, necessitating tailored response plans and fortified backup strategies.
  4. The swift exploitation of Log4j illustrates the need for rapid vulnerability management and proactive security measures.

Ultimately, organizations must recognize the persistent and multifaceted challenges posed by the contemporary cybersecurity landscape. To thrive in this environment, they must invest in comprehensive security strategies that encompass effective training, multi-layered defense measures, and an unwavering commitment to staying ahead of evolving threats.