Lancope Survey: Organizations Are Becoming More Aware of Online Threats by StealthWatch Labs

This year at Infosecurity Europe, Lancope surveyed conference participants on the state of cyber security. Amongst the respondents, top security concerns included insider threats, mobile devices, APTs, cloud security and reputational damage from cyber-attacks. The survey participants came from a wide range of industries including financial services, IT, government, service providers, retail, healthcare and education.

More Organizations Admit to Suffering from Attacks

In a similar survey conducted last year at the conference, Lancope found that respondents were largely in denial about the threat of cyber-attacks. In 2013, more than 65% of survey participants said they had not, or were not sure if, they had experienced any security incidents over the previous 12-18 months. This year, that number decreased to 39%, demonstrating that organizations are slowly becoming more aware of attacks within their networks. Also telling is that only 14% of this year’s respondents said they did not know whether they were victim to any security incidents, versus 37% last year. This year, 42% of respondents admitted to suffering from a malware attack versus only roughly 18% last year.

“It is not likely that the change in these numbers indicates a dramatic rise in attacks now versus last year,” said Tom Cross, director of security research for Lancope. “What it likely indicates is that people are more aware of the attacks their organizations are suffering from, especially since it was the number of respondents ‘not knowing’ that so sharply declined. This may mean that organizations are tracking security incidents more carefully and that they have increased the level of internal communication they are engaged in. This greater level of internal awareness is important in order for IT security efforts to receive the financial and political support that they need.”

Worries Over Insider Threats Rise

Another interesting change from last year’s survey is that, while respondents are still concerned about mobile devices on their networks, concerns over BYOD took a back seat to insider threats this year. The percentage of respondents citing BYOD as a top threat declined from approximately 50% to 30%, while concerns over insider threats climbed from roughly 32% to 40%. Out of those surveyed who cited just one main risk to their organization, the insider threat was their top pick at 30%.

“Organizations may be gaining greater confidence with the use of mobile devices,” said Cross. “BYOD and mobile devices have been a significant concern for the past few years, but we may be seeing that level of concern starting to wane as experience with these devices grows, and the tools used to manage them mature. The insider threat is a perennial concern, as the human factor in IT security does not have a simple technical solution – it’s a topic that deserves more study from information security professionals, as most organizations do not have a very mature approach to managing insider threats.”

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The APT Risk Continues to Grow

Concern over APTs also rose this year from around 18% to 30%. It was the second most concerning risk after the insider threat for organizations that cited just one risk. Almost half of all respondents who chose two or more top risks included APTs in their selection. A quarter of respondents who chose two or more risks selected both APTs and insider threats.  

“APTs plus insider threats is a concerning combination,” said Cross. “Sophisticated attackers are increasingly using social engineering as a tactic to obtain a foothold within governments and enterprises, coercing vulnerable insiders into divulging confidential information. Include mobile devices in that mix, and things get especially risky, as mobile phones give persistent attackers a pervasive way of monitoring a target.”

Reputational Damage Is a Top Concern

When it comes to the repercussions associated with cyber-attacks, the survey indicates that organizations are suffering most from reputational damage. When asked what had been the worst impact organizations had experienced from a security incident, over 30% chose reputational damage.

“Organizations are starting to realize that they have a lot to lose when it comes to inadvertently leaking customer data,” said Cross. “Consumers have demonstrated over the past year that if they believe their credit card numbers or personal information are at risk in your organization, they will take their business elsewhere.”

Companies Are Finally Investing in Cloud Security

When asked which security technologies they would be investing in over the next 6 -12 months, the most popular answer was cloud security at nearly 20%, followed by SIEM and security analytics. “As everyone from consumers to corporations willfully pushes their data into the cloud, it is encouraging to see that cloud security is top of mind,” said Cross. “With more valuable information being stored in the cloud, cloud service providers will become an increasingly attractive target to attackers, but so will the private clouds of individual companies. Security needs to play a fundamental role in any cloud migration project that is taking place now or in the future.”

Click here for the full Lancope survey results from Infosecurity Europe. Additional information on Lancope technology for combating advanced threats can be found at: http://www.lancope.com/solutions/.