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  • Human error predominates: 68% of data breaches involve human error, up from 64% last year.
  • Training overhaul needed: Traditional security training is ineffective; continuous and engaging real-time learning is crucial.
  • Stolen SaaS credentials: 77% of SaaS application breaches involve stolen credentials, even bypassing MFA.
  • Zero trust implementation: Adopting zero trust principles and MFA is essential to combat credential theft.

Verizon’s data breach investigation report is back. The behemoth of a report contains over 50 pages of insights and data points that businesses can—and should—use to enhance their cybersecurity posture.

If you haven’t got time to read the whole paper, we’ve got you covered. Here are the key takeaways to know about. 

Human error is still a top causes of data breaches 

Verizon’s latest report found that over two third of data breaches (68%) involve the human element, meaning human error or negligence led to the incident in part. Be this an employee using an overly basic password, falling for a phishing incident, or sharing confidential data with generative AI, there are almost limitless ways employees can trigger data breaches. 

Interestingly, last year’s report says the human element accounted for 74% of data breaches. At first, that might seem like a positive, as if human error is going down. However, the new stat is slightly misleading, as Verizon changed their reporting technique to exclude malicious insiders. 

In fact, using the new reporting technique, data breaches involving the human element stood at 64% last year, meaning there’s actually been an increase in what Verizon calls “carelessness”. Worse still, breaches caused wholly by end-user error jumped from 20% to 90%, highlighting just how big the problem is. 

What to do

Employee carelessness is clearly a big problem in organizations. The good news, though, is that it’s also fixable. Carelessness typically stems from a lack of awareness, a lack of concern or a lack of any consequences. 

Unfortunately, most security training programs reinforce carelessness because they’re infrequent and disengaging, and there simply aren’t any ramifications for not following the rules to the letter. 

To create a culture of security and reduce human error, employees need to rethink their approach to security awareness training, moving from occasional ‘lunch and learns’ or eLearning sessions to daily, active learning.

That’s where Polymer data loss prevention (DLP) steps in. Our solution comes equipped with real-time, NLP-enhanced nudges that guide users towards secure-decision making as they work in SaaS apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Every time there’s a policy violation, Polymer DLP sends a personalized nudge to the user, explaining how they’ve violated the policy, highlighting best practices, and encouraging the employee to remediate the action–or remediating it on their behalf depending on the risk factor.  

In just a week, our solution reduces repeat mistakes by over 40%. Not only is our active learning solution more effective and engaging, but it also reduces the workload for your security team and protects you against one of the most prominent causes of data breaches.  

Stolen SaaS credentials power plenty of breaches 

Another major cause of data breaches is stolen credentials. In particular, 77% of cyber-attacks on SaaS applications involved this attack vector. Let’s take a look at some recent media breaches that fell victim to this.

In the case of the Uber breach and Twilio breach, for example, stolen SaaS credentials were essential. Worse still, the attackers managed to overcome multi-factor authentication to successfully breach these companies, thanks to some sophisticated social engineering SMS messages.  

You can see why cybercriminals are beginning to favor this attack method: it’s low risk and high value. There are millions of leaked passwords on the dark web. With the right email address and a few password attempts, a malicious actor could potentially break into your corporate SaaS services in just minutes. 

What to do 

To combat the risk of stolen credentials, organizations need to do two things:

  1. Implement multi-factor authentication: While MFA isn’t a silver bullet against credentials compromise, it’s certainly a solid deterrent. We advise implementing MFA across all your SaaS apps, along with single sign-on to enhance the employee experience. 
  2. Embrace zero-trust security tools: Zero trust is a security principle centered around the idea that you should “trust no one and verify everyone.” Even if a user logs in using the right password, a zero trust framework would still demand they be verified in several ways to ensure their authenticity. For example, it may assess their IP address, log-in time, and behavioral patterns. These tools are your best defense against credentials compromise, as they can help you discover corrupt accounts before they get away with any data.

    Not sure how to get started with zero trust? Polymer can help. Our real-time DLP tool brings zero trust to your SaaS applications, ensuring that only verified, authentic, and well-intended users access and interact with your sensitive data. 

For more security updates, head to our blog.

Polymer is a human-centric data loss prevention (DLP) platform that holistically reduces the risk of data exposure in your SaaS apps and AI tools. In addition to automatically detecting and remediating violations, Polymer coaches your employees to become better data stewards. Try Polymer for free.


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