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Attacks/Breaches

5/8/2017
10:00 AM
Todd Thibodeaux
Todd Thibodeaux
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Why Cyber Attacks Will Continue until Prevention Becomes a Priority

Organizations must rethink their security measures. Focus on training, getting rid of old tech, and overcoming apathy.

Some learn best through observation, others only after making a costly mistake. Unfortunately, many businesses have failed to heed the cybersecurity lessons learned from the litany of major attacks over the past few years.

Modern cybersecurity threats have evolved far beyond the days where keyloggers and suspicious emails were considered sophisticated threats. They've grown to incorporate new attack vectors such as connected devices, as used in the 2016 Dyn distributed denial-of-service attack that disrupted many popular websites. Businesses must also contend with leaked exploits discovered by government intelligence agencies, such as the Vault 7 Wikileaks revelations around security flaws in virtually every major operating system and application.

It's time for organizations to rethink their approach to security. Keeping your organization safe must be a full-time commitment, not simply a passing concern following the latest report of a data breach.

Cut Ties with Outdated Tech
Cybersecurity is often described as an arms race between security professionals and skilled attackers, as both parties rush to gain the upper hand. While even cutting-edge defenses are inevitably thwarted by determined attackers, cybersecurity professionals are able to quickly react and nullify attacks.

But many businesses don't keep tabs on the front lines of cybersecurity development, leaving them several generations behind with regard to best practices and current threats. For example, while multifactor authentication has been recommended for more than a decade, many organizations are only now adopting the technology across their applications and platforms.

Making matters worse, many organizations fail to follow best practices for maintaining and protecting their current environments, creating countless avenues of attack for even inexperienced attackers. More than 9% of devices are still running Windows XP, three years after Microsoft discontinued support, giving malicious actors ample time to attack millions of vulnerable yet critical systems.

[Check out the two-day Dark Reading Cybersecurity Crash Course at Interop ITX, May 15 & 16, where Dark Reading editors and some of the industry's top cybersecurity experts will share the latest data security trends and best practices.]

Business leaders need to listen to their IT departments and devote more time and resources to security best practices such as regular updates, security audits, and penetration testing, resisting the urge to focus solely on revenue-driving activities at the expense of loss prevention.

Invest in Security Training & Skills
Most organizations understand the importance of regular security training for employees, but IT professionals within the company are often overlooked. While your resident system administrator or network engineer are unlikely to fall for a phishing attempt, what about the rest of your employees? A single oversight is all it takes to undermine many other precautions. Regular, top-to-bottom training is crucial for any organization that wants to avoid becoming the victim of the next major attack.

Overcoming Security Apathy
Many businesses suffer from the delusion that they are immune to cybersecurity threats until it's too late. Whether relying on security through obscurity or simply disregarding consistent warnings as hyperbolic nonsense, organizations have shown that they're willing to risk massive losses and reputation damage rather than overhaul their approach to security. Although some organizations have taken note, many will have to learn the hard way; attacks will escalate until businesses understand the costs of neglecting security.

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Todd Thibodeaux is the president and chief executive officer of the Computing Technology Industry Association, the leading trade association representing the business interests of the global information technology industry. He is responsible for leading strategy, development ... View Full Bio
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