Nearly 60 per cent of cyber attacks target multiple components on an organisation's network, reseach from security firm Carbon Black states.
This supports the theory that breaches like today's reported Marriot Hotel Group hack - which involved criminals spending more than four years inside the company's system to steal 500 million customer data records over that time - may not be isolated attacks.
Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity cfficer at Carbon Black said:
"It appears there had been unauthorised access to the Starwood network since 2014, demonstrating that attackers will get into an enterprise and attempt to remain undetected.
"A recent Carbon Black threat report found that nearly 60 per cent of attacks now involve lateral movement, which means attackers aren't just going after one component of an organisation - they're getting in, moving around and seeking more targets as they go."
Carbon Black's report also found that more than half of attackers now use their victim primarily for a practice known as "island hopping".
"In these campaigns, attackers first target an organisation's affiliates, often smaller companies with immature security postures and this can often be the case during a merger or acquisition," said Kellermann.
"This means that data at every point in the supply chain may be at risk, from customers, to partners and potential acquisitions."
Forrester analyst Enza Iannopollo has also called the Marriott breach an attack with "the potential to trigger the first hefty GDPR fine".
"The ingredients are all here," said Iannopollo.
"The volume of personal data exfiltrated, more than 500 million customers, the sensitivity of the data, potentially including customers' passport details, name, address, and even encryption keys, and the length of the breach which started in 2014."
To learn more about protecting about cyber threats in an increasingly hostile landscape, read a new report from Computing and experts at Carbon Black, which focuses on introducing the human element of "threat hunters" into an organisation to more proactively tackle the more sophisticated, human-driven activities which are becoming a greater reality of the IT security world.
Join the Computing team for episode three of the podcast that gives you the lowdown on the hottest tech news of the week
The operatives sought to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks located in multiple countries, the Department of Justice claims
South Korean intelligence says the attack was probably meant to raise money for its poorer northern neighbour
The Computing team expertly dissects the week's news, including the latest research on the top vendors in AI-enhanced security, how Favicons can be used to track you online, and whether Multi-Cloud is set to take over the world
It is not clear who purchased the data, how much they paid for it or even the currency they used