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Expand chart
Reproduced from FireEye's M-Trends report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Organizations are closing the skills and preparedness gap between hackers and themselves, improving a picture that's all too often painted as grim. That means we — at least those of us in the Western Hemisphere — are getting pretty good at cybersecurity, according to the latest numbers from one of the largest cybersecurity firms.

The bottom line: “It’s strange to hear, but things are actually getting better,” said Charles Carmakal, vice president at Mandiant, which released its yearly report yesterday.

The big picture: In a report that contains plenty of potentially alarming material, including multiple sections on the growing Iranian threat, Carmakal said its most important statistics are those on who first noticed data breaches and how they did it.

For all the high profile coverage of massive, often careless breaches, there’s reason to think defenders are outpacing attackers.

The details:

  • 64% of North and South American breaches investigated by FireEye are detected by the victim rather than by a third party (like law enforcement).
  • That’s a sizable improvement over 2011, when only 6% were detected internally.
  • This year was also an improvement over 2016, when 53% of breaches were detected by the victim.
  • “There is absolutely an improvement in organizational capability,” said Carmakal.

Why it matters: Who notices hackers makes a big difference in how fast the hackers get caught. Internal detection is much faster, so hackers are in systems for less time than they used to be. In the U.S., it’s a threefold difference.

  • The worldwide median dwell time — the time hackers can spend in a system without being caught — is only a quarter of what it was in 2011, but roughly the same as last year.
  • According to the report, median dwell time is lower in the Americas: 75.5 days, compared to 175 days in the European, Middle Eastern and African markets, and 498 in Asia Pacific markets.

Go deeper

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Trump's volatile return to the stock market

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Donald Trump this week became both a meme stock and a social-media entrepreneur at the same time, by announcing that a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group was going to merge with an existing company listed on the stock market.

Why it matters: The medium-term promise of Trump's media company is that it will replace Twitter for anybody wanting to keep track of Trump's messages. The short-term promise is that it can be a hot new speculative vehicle for people wanting to get rich quick in the stock market.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.