Verizon's Data Breach Investigations Report: POS Intrusion Discovery


Verizon recently released its 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report. I could spend all day analyzing this, but I’ll touch on just one issue that’s been on many of our minds recently: Point-of-Sale (POS) intrusion.

Aside from Verizon’s assertion that the number of POS intrusions is actually declining (contrary to popular perception), I was most intrigued by the following statement: “Regardless of how large the victim organization was or which methods were used to steal payment card information, there is another commonality shared in 99% of the cases: someone else told the victim they had suffered a breach.”

What does that say for the wide array of network defense software currently deployed around the globe? An organization’s security posture is clearly flawed if the vast majority of compromises are discovered by outside parties (the report stated that law enforcement was the leading source of discovery for POS intrusions). It is especially troubling that even large organizations don’t spot intrusions, because they likely have the resources to purchase the best security tools available. Either companies aren’t prioritizing security, or the available tools are failing them.

The bottom line is that with all the network security tools out there, no one has shown much success at thwarting POS attacks in real time. If we assume the POS targets were PCI compliant, then they must have had, at a minimum, 12 security requirements from 6 control objectives (per the PCI Data Security Standard: Requirements and Security Assessment Procedures Version 3.0).

Despite these security measures being critical first lines of defense, in many situations they are not enough to thwart the most aggressive threats. Attackers were still able to enter the networks and extract sensitive consumer information. It seems likely that network defenders will continue to be unaware of nefarious acts taking place within their own networks until more intelligent network security solutions become the standard. Detection, analysis, and remediation need to happen in real time, rather than continuing to be a post-mortem affair.