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

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 32,844,146 — Total deaths: 994,208 — Total recoveries: 22,715,726Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,078,798 — Total deaths: 204,497 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Texas city declares disaster after brain-eating amoeba found in water supply

Characteristics associated with a case of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri parasites. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Texas authorities have issued a warning amid concerns that the water supply in the southeast of the state may contain the brain-eating amoeba naegleria fowleri following the death of a 6-year-old boy.

Details: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a "do not use" water alert Friday for eight cities, along with the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections centers and the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport. This was later lifted for all places except for Lake Jackson, which issued a disaster declaration Saturday.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

What they're saying: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading political figures reacted to President Trump's Saturday afternoon nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

What they're saying: "President Trump could not have made a better decision," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."