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Hello, and welcome first-time readers! Before you get started on the 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) it might be a good idea to take a look at this section first. (For those of you who are familiar with the report, please feel free to jump over to the introduction) We have been doing this report for a while now, and we appreciate that the verbiage we use can be a bit obtuse at times. We use very deliberate naming conventions, terms and definitions and spend a lot of time making sure we are consistent throughout the report. Hopefully this section will help make all of those more familiar.
Being confident in our data
Starting in 2019 with slanted bar charts, the DBIR has tried to make the point that the only certain thing about information security is that nothing is certain. Even with all the data we have, we’ll never know anything with absolute certainty. However, instead of throwing our hands up and complaining that it is impossible to measure anything in a data-poor environment, or worse yet, just plain making stuff up, we get to work. This year you’ll continue to see the team representing uncertainty throughout the report figures.
The examples shown in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 all convey the range of realities that could credibly be true. Whether it be the slant of the bar chart, the threads of the spaghetti chart, the dots of the dot plot or the color of the pictogram plot, all convey the uncertainty of our industry in their own special way.
The slanted bar chart will be familiar to returning readers. The slant on the bar chart represents the uncertainty of that data point to a 95% confidence level (which is standard for statistical testing). In layman’s terms, if the slanted areas of two (or more) bars overlap, you can’t really say one is bigger than the other without angering the math gods.
The dot plot is another returning champion, and the trick to understanding this chart is to remember that the dots represent organizations. If, for instance, there are 200 dots (like in Figure 3), each dot represents 0.5% of organizations. This is a much better way of understanding how something is distributed among organizations, and provides considerably more information than an average or a median. We added more colors and callouts to those in an attempt to make them even more informative.
Spaghetti charts, and our relative newcomer, Pictogram plot, attempt to capture uncertainty in a similar way to slanted bar charts but are more suited for a single proportion.
We hope they make your journey through this complex dataset even smoother than previous years.