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The Top 4 Initial Attack Vectors of 2022: What You Need to Know

The Top 4 Initial Attack Vectors of 2022: What You Need to Know

Given the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats, organizations must remain vigilant and prioritize security measures to protect their digital assets. As reported in the IBM 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, compromised credentials, phishing, cloud misconfiguration, and vulnerabilities in third-party software were the most common initial attack vectors for data breaches in 2022. Furthermore, based on the IBM report, phishing was the most financially impactful initial attack vector costing an average of USD 4.91 million. At the same time, compromised credentials, business email compromises, and vulnerabilities in third-party software accounted for 63% of all data breaches. Organizations must perform regular assessments such as red teaming and penetration testing to effectively protect their systems and data against such threats to measure their Mean Time To Detect (MTTD) and Mean Time To Respond (MTTR).

The Top 4 Initial Attack Vectors of 2022: What You Need to Know

Regarding cost, phishing was the most effective attack vector, while compromised credentials were the most exploitable.

Compromised Credentials - 19%:

Compromised credentials have been a major source of data breaches in 2022 and continue to cause significant financial losses for companies. According to the IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach report, compromised credentials caused an average of USD 4.50 million in damages across all industries, making it the most exploitable attack. Poor password hygiene and lack of multi-factor authentication (MFA) are often culprits behind credential-related data breaches.
In addition to reusing passwords across multiple accounts and using weak passwords, attackers can use social engineering tactics like phishing or pretexting to trick employees into revealing their login credentials. Organizations must implement MFA, which offers an extra layer of security by requiring additional authentication steps beyond just a username and password to protect against unauthorized access even if a password is compromised. However, it is essential to remember that MFA alone may not be sufficient in preventing attacks, as phishing of MFA credentials is becoming more prevalent. Therefore, it is recommended to use multiple layers of controls such as certificates, hardware keys, or biometrics to ensure a secure authentication process. Creating policies that encourage strong password hygiene and educating employees on password security best practices is also essential. Organizations must use Threat Intelligence to keep an eye on leaked/compromised credentials that attackers could leverage (from the dark web or the Internet). Additionally, creating policies that encourage strong password hygiene and educating employees on password security best practices are essential in preventing attacks and protecting sensitive information. By taking these measures, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of credential-related data breaches and safeguard their critical assets.

Phishing Attacks - 16%

Phishing attacks have become more sophisticated and targeted in recent years, increasing the risk of costly breaches. In 2022, phishing attacks were expected to remain one of the most prevalent attack vectors, with estimates suggesting an average cost of USD 5 million per incident.
To protect against phishing attacks, companies must deploy comprehensive security measures, such as email filters, anti-phishing software, and constant training. In addition, regular social engineering tests can identify vulnerabilities in the organization’s email systems and help prevent successful phishing attacks. Training employees to recognize suspicious emails is also essential for preventing successful attacks. To ensure employees are well informed about potential threats, employers should provide regular security awareness training that covers topics like phishing techniques and reporting procedures. Finally, organizations should consider implementing technologies that leverage machine learning algorithms to detect suspicious emails more quickly than manual processes can. With the right combination of preventive measures, businesses can reduce their chances of a costly breach due to a sophisticated phishing attack.

Cloud Misconfiguration - 15%

Cloud misconfiguration continues to be a significant security concern in 2022, with some reports estimating that it accounted for as much as 15% of all breaches. Misconfiguration of cloud services can occur for various reasons, such as incomplete configuration or lack of knowledge about the security features available in the cloud platform. Misconfigured cloud services can provide a vulnerable entry point for attackers to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive data or launch attacks on other systems. In addition to misconfigurations, attackers increasingly target cloud services through supply chain attacks, which involve maliciously manipulating software that legitimate cloud service providers use. Other threats to cloud infrastructure in 2022 include malware, phishing campaigns, and brute force attacks. To mitigate the risk of a breach caused by cloud misconfiguration, organizations should regularly monitor their cloud environments using automated tools to address these emerging threats. Automated tools can detect unauthorized access attempts and alert administrators when suspicious activity occurs. Organizations should also carry out routine security assessments, such as Cloud Security Audits, to identify risky configurations or insecure access controls and remediate them promptly.

Vulnerability in Third Party - 13%

In 2022, malicious actors employed a wide range of attack vectors to exploit vulnerabilities in third-party software. These attacks included exploiting the software’s vulnerable application programming interfaces (APIs) and phishing emails sent from malicious domains to gain access to sensitive data. Further, these third-party vendors may introduce bugs or coding errors that can open gateways for malicious actors to access the company’s systems and data. The SolarWinds attack of 2021 is a prime example of a third-party vulnerability that resulted in significant damage and cost to multiple organizations. Companies should regularly update their patching cycles to patch potential vulnerabilities and promptly mitigate the risk. Additionally, they should perform rigorous vulnerability scanning and evaluate the security of any third-party vendors they work with. According to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report from IBM Security, each breach caused by a third-party supplier cost organizations an estimated USD 4.55 million in clean-up and reputational damage costs. As such, companies need to be vigilant when engaging with third-party software providers – otherwise, the costs associated with a breach could be severe.

Common Causes of Data Breaches in 2022

Certainly! Various causes accounted for the remaining percentage of breach factors in 2022. According to IBM reports, the following are some of the other common factors contributing to breaches in 2022:

  • Malware attacks, including ransomware, accounted for 10% of breaches in 2022.
  • Insider threats, including accidental and intentional actions by employees, contractors, and partners, were responsible for 7% of breaches in 2022.
  • Physical attacks, such as theft or loss of devices, accounted for 5% of breaches in 2022.
  • Social engineering tactics beyond phishing, such as pretexting or baiting, were responsible for 4% of breaches in 2022. Other factors, such as DDoS attacks, web application attacks, and payment card skimming, comprised 6% of breaches in 2022.
  • Supply chain attacks were responsible for 2% of breaches in 2022.
  • Unknown or unspecified factors made up 2% of breaches in 2022.
  • Other factors, including errors in system configuration, unauthorized access, and attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, accounted for 1% of breaches in 2022.

It’s important to note that the exact breakdown of breach factors can vary depending on the source and methodology of the report. We conducted the above research based on the IBM Security report ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022’.

2022 Proactive Cybersecurity Strategies

The recent cyber security attack vectors of 2022 have changed the landscape of how businesses approach protecting their networks. Companies must perform external pentest assessments to ensure that their systems comply with security standards and employ red team assessment strategies to measure their Mean Time To Detect (MTTD) and Mean Time To Respond (MTTR). Red teaming involves actively trying to break into an organization’s systems using various techniques, such as

  • Phishing campaigns.
  • Abuse of compromised credentials.
  • Cloud misconfiguration.
  • Third-party software vulnerabilities.
  • Social engineering techniques such as using single sign-on (SSO) services.

As these reports demonstrate, the threats are more significant than ever. The most dangerous attack vectors are still the same, and companies must invest time and money in improving their cybersecurity strategies to keep players safe. With ioSENTRIX security consultancy, you can have expert analysts evaluate your current systems and offer recommendations that could help you maximize your security capabilities. Companies of all sizes should recognize these security challenges’ gravity and act accordingly. Act now to protect yourself against cyberattacks; contact ioSENTRIX today to get started on safeguarding your business!