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Attacks/Breaches

1/13/2015
09:30 PM
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New Data Illustrates Reality Of Widespread Cyberattacks

All retailers, healthcare & pharmaceutical firms in new study suffered cyber attacks in the first half of 2014, FireEye found.

Some 96% of organizations across 20 different vertical industries suffered some form of cyber attack in the first half of last year.

Advanced malware attacks -- typically associated with cyber espionage or other targeted attack campaigns -- made up nearly 30% of cyber intrusions at 1,200 companies, according to new data from FireEye collected from its network and email sensors that sit behind traditional security systems.

All organizations in agriculture, auto and transportation, education, and retail that were monitored in a trial deployment by the security firm suffered breaches during January and June of last year.

Dave Merkel, CTO of FireEye, says the findings in this random sampling of organizations underscore how the bad guys are relentlessly going after information from their victims but the victim organizations aren't keeping pace with attackers.

"One issue is outmoded thinking that 'I bought this magic widget 5 to 10 years ago, and it's somehow relevant today.' But the bad guys are innovating … and [companies] need to continue to innovate" with their security strategies and tools, he says.

It's not just about security technology or products, either, he says. "You have to bring expertise to the problem. The bad guy is a person; the malware is a tool. So you can't just buy technology, plug it in, and solve all ills," Merkel says. "At the end of the day, you are playing cat-and-mouse with an increasingly professional person who's making a living taking your stuff … There's still a human element that has to be engaged actively in your defense."

Meanwhile, FireEye, which sells next-generation threat detection technology, found the industry with the biggest increase in advanced malware attacks was law, with twice the number of such attacks since the previous year.

And the industry with the lowest percentage of attacks getting past its security perimeters was aerospace and defense, with 76% of the companies getting hit. "While the number is unacceptably high, it is significantly lower than other industries. One possible explanation: many firms in this sector, long a target of advanced state-sponsored attacks, have beefed up their cyber defenses. But as the data shows, most of these defenses continue to fail," said the FireEye report.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

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GonzSTL
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GonzSTL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2015 | 12:16:11 PM
Re: Security Suite versus Cost
Keeping up with the bad guys is a never ending battle. The threat landscape is always widening, and the sophistication of attacks grows with each successful breach. What's a company to do? There is no such thing as a bottomless budget so something has to give. Within that budget is the expense of security products and employee training to keep up with technology. Perhaps we should rethink the strategy of keeping all security activities in-house. Years ago, I worked for a service company – outsourced Payroll and Human Resources applications and even functions. The philosophy behind the marketing was that companies should stick to their core competencies and outsource other functions to companies that have invested heavily to provide those services at a high level of competency. There is no reason why security services shouldn't be one of those outsourced functions, especially in this age of connectivity.

Imagine a company that has invested heavily in (at the time) state of the art security appliances. They pour lots of dollars into installation, configuration, training, optimization, etc. Well, what was state of the art then becomes somewhat outdated very rapidly given the ever changing threat landscape, increasing sophistication of the attack vectors, and mitigating technology advances. The company then has to spend a lot every year just to update and maintain those systems (hopefully not forklift and replace them), and train employees on the updates, in addition to whatever "normal" training they have to undergo. Outsourcing the hardware and monitoring components seems like a more reasonable and predictable cost. Within the company, there needs to be a very comprehensive and well defined Event and Incident Response strategy that can rapidly act upon any suspect event identified by the solution provider. Target had a similar model, but the breach was largely aided by an improperly handled event; their security personnel were notified of the suspect event (malware presence) by their service provider, but their incident handling procedures failed them.

I'm sure many companies have the strategy where they throw technology in to resolve a security gap, giving them an increased sense of security, but in reality, unless the companies have a sound security strategy in place that is based on well known basic security practices (such as the SANS 20 Critical Controls among others), all that technology will only serve as a false sense of security.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2015 | 8:24:41 AM
Security Suite versus Cost
The magic wand widget of 5 -10 years ago is a monumental security hole. But when it comes down to it, upgrading and purchasing new protections can become expensive quickly. Also pointed out in the article is that there needs to be a maintained human element, which may be scarce based on company resources.

I would recommend a solution that is managed by the same third party and has a security suite that encompasses the majority of prevalent security safeguards. In this way you will be able to reduce cost by coupling products, ensure cross system compatibility (which is huge for SIEM and other correlation), and upgrades can be managed more seamlessly. Also, if you company bandwidth is not large than an MSSP who focuses on this may also cut cost and increase security expertise for the organization.

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