The frequency of high-severity incidents with direct human involvement exceeded two per day in 2023.

According to the Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response (MDR) this trend was observed across all industries with financial, IT, government, and industrial sectors at the top of the list.

The annual MDR Analyst Report provides information about the reported incidents, their nature, and their distribution by industry and geographic region. It also highlights the most common tactics, techniques and tools attackers used in the past year. These results are based on analysis of MDR incidents detected by the Kaspersky Security Operations Centre (SOC).

According to the report, 22,9% of all detected high-severity incidents were recorded in the government sector. IT companies came second (15,4%), closely followed by financial and industrial companies that reported 14,9% and 11,8% of incidents, respectively.

Regarding the nature of these incidents, nearly 25% of them were driven by humans. Just over 20% involved various types of ‘cyber exercises’, which had been previously classified by Kaspersky as targeted attacks but designated as ‘cyber exercises’ upon explicit confirmation by the customer.

The percentage of malware attacks resulting in serious consequences dipped slightly in 2023 compared to previous years, accounting for just over 12% of the total reported critical incidents. This decline represents the smallest share of high severity incidents in recent years and can be attributed to the “commoditisation of attacks”.

This trend reflects the widespread adoption of previously developed tools, originally designed for conducting targeted campaigns which, due to deliberate or accidental leaks, have become common. These tools are now being repurposed in attempts to implement fully automated attack scenarios.

The 2023 MDR’s report, also found that the proportion of incidents involving the detection of targeted attack artefacts, publicly available critical vulnerabilities and the use of social engineering was around 4% to 5%.

“In 2023, Kaspersky detected a smaller number of high-severity incidents, but observed a simultaneous increase in the number of medium and low severity ones,” comments Sergey Soldatov, head of security operations centre at Kaspersky. “This redistribution of occurrences is associated with the detection of malware without visible traces of active human participation in attacks, which can be explained by the ‘commoditisation of tools’.

“However, it’s important to understand that the low number of high-severity incidents does not necessarily indicate low damage. Targeted attacks are now planned more carefull, and become more dangerous. Therefore, we recommend the use of effective automated cybersecurity solutions managed with the help of experienced SOC analysts.”

To enhance protection against advanced attacks, companies are advised to implement effective cybersecurity solutions and hire qualified practitioners to manage them or adopt managed security services such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Incident Response.