July 29, 2021

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M-Trends 2021: A View From the Front Lines

We are thrilled to launch
M-Trends
2021
, the 12th edition of our annual FireEye
Mandiant publication. The past year has been unique, as we witnessed
an unprecedented combination of global events. Business operations
shifted in response to the worldwide pandemic and threat actors
continued to escalate the sophistication and aggressiveness of their
attacks, while in parallel leveraged unexpected global events to their advantage.

We discuss all of this and much more in the full report, which is available
for download today
. But first, here is a sneak preview of the
most popular M-Trends metric where we answer the critical
question: Are organizations getting better at detecting attacks?

In short, yes! Back in 2011, we reported a 416-day global median
dwell time, indicating that attackers were operating undetected on a
system or network for over a year on average. This time, from Oct. 1,
2019 through Sept. 30, 2020, the median dwell time has decreased to
only 24 days. This means—for the first time in M-Trends
history—the median dwell time has dropped to under one month.

Although this drop in dwell time is promising, it is critical for
organizations to remember that cyber adversaries typically only need a
few days to achieve their objective, such as identifying and stealing
the crown jewels of a victim organization or launching a crippling
ransomware attack. Organizations across the globe must remain
vigilant, to prepare for the next incident.

There is much more to unpack in the M-Trends 2021 report.
Here is a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • By the Numbers: A large and diverse set of metrics including
    attacker dwell time, detection by source, industry targeting,
    growing threat techniques, sophisticated malware families, and
    more.
  • Ransomware: Front-line stories on how this harmful threat is
    evolving, challenges with recovery, and best practice hardening
    strategies to effectively combat this threat.
  • Newly Named Threat Groups: More on FIN11, a financially
    motivated threat group that we promoted in 2020, which has been
    active since at least 2016 and is most recently known for operations
    involving ransomware and extortion.
  • Pandemic-Related Threats: Breakdown of countless espionage
    campaigns targeting ground-breaking research in the race to learn
    more about COVID-19.
  • UNC2452/SUNBURST: UNC2452’s headline-making compromise of
    environments via an implant in the SolarWinds Orion platform, mapped
    to the attack lifecycle framework with details at every stage.
  • Case Studies: Mandiant engagements involving the rise of
    insider threats and how to be more prepared, plus advanced red
    teaming tactics that enabled access to executive emails without any
    exploits.

For over a decade, the mission of M-Trends has always been
the same: to arm security professionals with insights on the latest
attacker activity as seen directly on the front lines, backed by
actionable learnings to improve organizations’ security postures
within an evolving threat landscape.

Download the M-Trends
2021
report
today, and then for more information, check out
the FireEye
Mandiant Virtual Summit
. Starting today and running through
April 15, the event includes a variety of sessions, with three related
to M-Trends: one that provides an overview
of the report and highlights key topics
, another focused on our
“By
the Numbers” chapter
coupled with mitigation solutions related
to these metrics, and one covering the report
through a lens from the EMEA region
. Register now!