Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

11/15/2019
11:40 AM
50%
50%

Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security

Based on penetration tests and vulnerability assessments, attackers' costs to compromise a company's network increases significantly when security is continuously tested, a report finds.

Companies that focus on continuously testing their security through automated means and regular penetration testing roughly double the cost to attackers of finding exploitable vulnerabilities in their systems, according to data from security assessments and red-team engagements collected by crowdsourced security firm Synack.

The company found that the average number of times that a red-team member had to probe an asset to find a vulnerability more than doubled — increasing by 112% — on average over the past two years. In addition, the average severity of the vulnerabilities found by red-team members have decreased to a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) score of 5.95 in 2018, down from aa CVSS score of 6.41 in 2016.

The findings suggest that companies that incorporate security into their development and operations are succeeding in hardening their systems, says Anne-Marie Chun Witt, a director of product marketing at Synack.

"You are seeing fewer vulnerabilities and/or taking longer to find them," she says. "It is taking more effort to find them and they are having to find more complex stuff. So they [companies focused on security] can say they are increasing the costs for attackers."

The data underscores that security efforts do result in measurable improvement in the security posture of companies that undertake them. Overall, companies that automated security testing — conducting it on essentially a continuous basis — had a 43% higher measure of security using Synack's proprietary metric. 

Most companies — 63% — remediated vulnerabilities in less than three months. Among the laggards were e-commerce companies, retailers, and state and local government and education.

"Some industries deserve honorable mentions for their proactive approach to security through testing for vulnerabilities, remediating them, and making the adjustments necessary to instill long-term, cultural changes to improve security posture," Synack stated in its report. "The results reflect that."

The crowdsourced security firm is not the only one to note the impact security can have on hardening against compromises and breaches. Earlier this month, bug-bounty management provider HackerOne calculated — albeit, self-servingly — that four large breaches, where vulnerability was the known vector of attack, could have been prevented by bounty programs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Pointing to the British Airways breach that cost the company $230 million in fines, the company noted that a JavaScript vulnerability led to the compromise.

"Attackers are believed to have gained access via a third-party JavaScript vulnerability, which, on the bug bounty market, carries a value between $5,000–$10,000," the company stated.

Other research has shown the impact that security investment can have on the cost of cyberattacks. The annual "Cost of Cybercrime Study," conducted by the Ponemon Institute and most recently sponsored by Accenture, found that four main technologies can help reduce the costs associated with breaches: security intelligence and threat sharing; automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning; advanced identity and access management; and cyber and user behavior analytics.

"The main driver for the rise in containment costs is the increasing complexity and sophistication of cyberattacks," the report stated. "Another factor is the expansion of compliance and regulatory requirements."

A significant portion of the Synack report promotes the company's proprietary security metric — a single number that attempts to combine data on the theoretical cost to that attacker, the severity of vulnerabilities found by Synack's penetration testing teams, and how efficiently the company remediates vulnerabilities. 

The manufacturing and critical-infrastructure industry has the highest median attacker resistance score — 69 on a scale of 100 — but bucks the trend of continuous testing leading to higher scores. While seven of the nine industries highlighted in the report had higher scores from continuous testing, both the manufacturing and healthcare industries only conducted discrete, point-in-time testing.

The higher security posture of manufacturing and critical infrastructure is more likely due to the serious adversaries the industry faces, Synack stated. 

"The sector has had to adopt a more proactive approach to securing their infrastructure because the industry is a top target for attacks by governments and large entities or 'state actors,'" according to the report. "In turn, they are more mature in their testing than other industries."

While the technology industry is in the middle of the pack, the segment did have a much higher threshold of application security, resulting in a much higher average time to find a vulnerability, according to Synack. 

"The longer the time to find a vulnerability, the higher the cost to the attacker and the less attractive the target," the company said in the report. "This is in line with other trends we've seen within the technology industry [and its] proactive approach to security."

Related Content

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "8 Backup & Recovery Questions to Ask Yourself."

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
robertmbaker
50%
50%
robertmbaker,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/18/2019 | 2:56:41 AM
thank pro
hi
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-29040
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
The JSON web services in Liferay Portal 7.3.4 and earlier, and Liferay DXP 7.0 before fix pack 97, 7.1 before fix pack 20 and 7.2 before fix pack 10 may provide overly verbose error messages, which allows remote attackers to use the contents of error messages to help launch another, more focused att...
CVE-2021-29041
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability in the Multi-Factor Authentication module in Liferay DXP 7.3 before fix pack 1 allows remote authenticated attackers to prevent any user from authenticating by (1) enabling Time-based One-time password (TOTP) on behalf of the other user or (2) modifying the othe...
CVE-2021-29047
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
The SimpleCaptcha implementation in Liferay Portal 7.3.4, 7.3.5 and Liferay DXP 7.3 before fix pack 1 does not invalidate CAPTCHA answers after it is used, which allows remote attackers to repeatedly perform actions protected by a CAPTCHA challenge by reusing the same CAPTCHA answer.
CVE-2021-22668
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Delta Industrial Automation CNCSoft ScreenEditor Versions 1.01.28 (with ScreenEditor Version 1.01.2) and prior are vulnerable to an out-of-bounds read while processing project files, which may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2021-29039
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-16
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Asset module's categories administration page in Liferay Portal 7.3.4 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the site name.