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
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
New 'Nanodegree' Program Provides Hands-On Cybersecurity Training
Nicole Ferraro, Contributing Writer,  8/3/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15058
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-07
Lindy 42633 4-Port USB 2.0 Gigabit Network Server 2.078.000 devices allow an attacker on the same network to elevate privileges because the administrative password can be discovered by sniffing unencrypted UDP traffic.
CVE-2020-15059
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-07
Lindy 42633 4-Port USB 2.0 Gigabit Network Server 2.078.000 devices allow an attacker on the same network to bypass authentication via a web-administration request that lacks a password parameter.
CVE-2020-15060
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-07
Lindy 42633 4-Port USB 2.0 Gigabit Network Server 2.078.000 devices allow an attacker on the same network to conduct persistent XSS attacks by leveraging administrative privileges to set a crafted server name.
CVE-2020-15061
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-07
Lindy 42633 4-Port USB 2.0 Gigabit Network Server 2.078.000 devices allow an attacker on the same network to denial-of-service the device via long input values.
CVE-2020-15062
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-07
DIGITUS DA-70254 4-Port Gigabit Network Hub 2.073.000.E0008 devices allow an attacker on the same network to elevate privileges because the administrative password can be discovered by sniffing unencrypted UDP traffic.