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Cybersecurity In-Depth

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Security Teams Expect Attackers to Go After End Users First

Phishing, malware, and ransomware have spurred organizations to increase their investments in endpoint security, according to Dark Reading’s Endpoint Security Survey.

The shift to a more distributed work environment and an increase in digital transformation initiatives have motivated organizations to bolster their endpoint security defenses. However, end users continue to be a major source of worry for IT and security decision-makers, according to the latest Dark Reading survey.

Phishing, malware, and ransomware pose major threats to organizations, as do attacks involving credential theft. An overwhelming 93% of IT and security professionals in Dark Reading’s "2022 Endpoint Security Survey" cite the growing number of ransomware attacks as the reason behind increased investments in endpoint security. Similarly, 83% say the increase in attacks using end-user credentials spurred their endpoint investments.

End users pose one of the biggest threats to the organization, as 87% expect that if attackers wanted to steal the organization’s data, they would begin by targeting a single end user.

Concerns about the end user are not new. Verizon’s "2021 Data Breach Investigations Report" found that 85% of the breaches it investigated in 2020 involved end users in some way – such as stolen account credentials, incorrectly assigned privileges or elevated privileges, social engineering, and user error.

IT and security professionals are looking at how they manage authentication and end-user access privileges. A solid 85% of respondents express confidence in their organizations’ ability to manage end-user access privileges, and 79% say the same about authentication. There was a similar level of confidence in security awareness training, with 77% saying their organizations’ current approach was effective.

However, organizations are less confident about their ability to detect insider threats. Only 56% of the survey respondents are confident the security team would know immediately that an end user was trying to steal or exfiltrate corporate data.

Read more about how enterprises plan to address endpoint security threats in a post-pandemic world.