Businesses are buckling down on endpoint security and increasing their budgets to invest in tools they don't have to triage security alerts, identify threats, and remediate cyber attacks.
This was the key takeaway from a survey commissioned by Guidance Software and conducted with technology vendors and Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). Researchers polled 385 security and IT pros in June 2017 to learn about their endpoint security plans.
They discovered 72% are planning endpoint security budget increases over the next year. Of those planning to boost their spending, 32% say the growth will be "substantial" and 27% consider endpoint detection and response (EDR) to be the most important security control in use.
Anthony Di Bello, senior director of products at Guidance, says he was surprised to learn how many respondents were purely satisfied using signature-based antivirus (AV) for endpoint security.
"Thirty-seven percent said their traditional signature-based antivirus software was excellent," he explains, noting that the sentiment is different from what he usually hears. "Most folks have a lower reliance on antivirus and have implemented several additional controls."
Demographics of the study indicate most respondents represented large organizations, Di Bello continues. About half had fewer than 2,500 endpoints. Most were on the mature side of security awareness; for example, large insurance companies or manufacturing businesses.
Di Bello points to a few problems he has observed with traditional AV tools, which he says are useful against old threats but not new ones. Most attacks in the last 12 months were conducted using methods that typically bypass traditional AV/EPP perimeter tools. Only 27% of survey respondents say they were hit with commodity malware in the past year.
"Those types of solutions -- any kind of solution that's focused on stopping something from happening, stopping something from getting in -- rely on some sort of exact-match technology," he explains.
For example, he notes how new malware samples are discovered every day and polymorphic attacks can slightly change their appearance as they move from one machine to the next. This "completely eliminates the efficacy of antivirus," adds Di Bello. In contrast, EDR is designed to detect unusual behavior and techniques rather than specific types of attacks. With response times of 3 to 5 days, many AV tools also give malware a broader window of opportunity to spread.
For most respondents, the challenges of endpoint security are staying up-to-date on modern threats and conveying their importance to board members in charge of budget approval.
"This is a constant cat-and-mouse game … as soon as new defenses are built, new attacks are created," he says, adding that many businesses "have a challenge in securing the budget and telling the C-level this budget is real."
The approval process is easier in regulated industries like finance, where security teams have to address regulators' concerns following a breach and dictate what happened, what was taken, what will be done about it, and other questions.
For security teams struggling with budget approval, Di Bello recommends knocking on the legal department's door, which can help with unlocking budget based on risk.
"When a breach happens to a regulated company, legal's always first in the door," he explains. In some large financial organizations, security reports to the legal team -- a partnership he says is among the most successful he has seen.
"Cybersecurity is risk management in a different domain," Di Bello continues, adding that it should be treated the same as physical risk management. Communication between legal and IT leads to understanding and trust, he says, both in terms of securing budget and reacting in times of crisis.