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Risk

5/5/2009
09:15 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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When It Comes To Getting Hacked, Organizations Fatalistic

According to a British Telecom survey, to be released later this week, 94 percent of the 200 IT professionals surveyed from around the globe expect to suffer a breach.

According to a British Telecom survey, to be released later this week, 94 percent of the 200 IT professionals surveyed from around the globe expect to suffer a breach.My question to the other 6 percent: can I have some of what you are smoking? Of course, much of this boils down to definition of a breach. But it's pretty hard to use the Internet to any degree today without someone, somewhere, in your organization getting nailed with a traffic-sniffing something.

Kelly Jackson Higgins, at our sister site DarkReading reports on the upcoming survey:

In fact, a full 94 percent expect to suffer a successful breach in the next 12 months, according to a new study on ethical hacking to be released by British Telecom (BT) later this week.

The twist: Those who conduct network penetration tests think their chances of getting hacked are less likely than those who don't. Those who pen test estimated their chances of a breach at around 26 percent, while those who don't thought they had a 38 percent chance, according to BT's new 2009 Ethical Hacking study, which polled more than 200 IT professionals worldwide from mid-February through the end of March. Around 60 percent of organizations have budgeted for pen testing, while around 38 percent have not, the study found. Nearly 70 percent allocate 1 to 5 percent of their security budgets for pen testing, 17 percent allocated 6 to 10 percent, and 2 percent set aside 20 percent.

I won't delve into percent of budget dedicated to penetration tests. But when it comes to odds of suffering a breach, I peg that figure much closer to 100 percent. I've watched portions of a number of penetration tests. I've sat across the table from ethical hackers as their clients looked absolutely shocked and mortified when their systems were pwned with tools readily downloadable from the Internet. I've listened in on calls where employers were not only convinced to hand over critical information to the social engineer -- they were terrified that they'd get fired if they didn't.

I've stood next to dumpsters with hackers rummaging through: eventually they pop their heads up and with an almost giddy voice and exclaim: "Look what I found!"

The point is that all of us are hackable. No individual, let alone any organization of any complexity can call itself "HackProof."

Well, they could. But that would only motivate someone who would relatively quickly prove them wrong.

The best we can hope for, in today's sad state of software quality and bolted-on information security tools, is to raise the difficultly level so high that one is not worth the trouble to hack.

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