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

6/25/2018
02:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Midsized Organizations More Secure Than Large Ones

New report offers data and analysis as to why midsized organizations hit a cybersecurity sweet spot in terms of security efficacy.

A new report based on data from an extensive body of penetration tests shows that while prevailing opinion believes big enterprises do the best job at securing their systems and data, it is actually midsized organizations that outperform small and large businesses.

Based on over 300 individual penetration tests conducted over the course of seven months, the Coalfire Labs Penetration Risk Report examines data about vulnerabilities and risks with relation to a number of company factors. 

Most surprising among the findings are those related to company size. For the purpose of this report, small organizations are defined as those with up to $100 million in revenue, medium as those between $100 million and $1 billion in revenue, and large as those with greater than $1 billion in revenue. The study showed that large organizations fared the worst in terms of the overall number of high-risk vulnerabilities exposed to attackers, and medium organizations fared the best. 

The report proposes that midsized organizations occupy a cybersecurity sweet spot because small enterprises may be too unsophisticated or underfunded, while larger ones with a large volume of cybersecurity funds have such diverse IT operations — complex, dynamic and geographically diverse — that security teams struggle to keep up even with deep pockets at their disposal. 

"Our extensive penetration tests flip the thinking that large enterprises are the most secure, even with the largest cybersecurity budgets and investments in staffing and other resources," says Mike Weber, vice president of Coalfire Labs.

Some of the other findings won't surprise most veteran security practitioners. For example, by sector financial services tends to perform best, while healthcare and retail performs the worst. Similarly unsurprising, the study showed that organizations of all sizes still struggle in the basic blocking and tackling efforts of overall security hygiene.

"Too often, companies spend too much time and money trying to identify really complex, sophisticated technical cybersecurity challenges when, if they spent the same time and energy doing the basics, they could reduce their overall corporate risk by literal orders of magnitude," explains Mark Weatherford, chief cybersecurity strategist at vArmour and member of the Coalfire Advisory Board. 

Also not a shocker: companies of all sizes also tend to do a better job protecting themselves from external-based threats, but leave their internal network connections less secured. The report shows that the majority of high-risk vulnerabilities were associated with application and internal attack vectors. In other words, most companies are still caught up in the perimeter-centric mode of protection. 

Why Cybercriminals Attack: A DARK READING VIRTUAL EVENT Wednesday, June 27. Industry experts will offer a range of information and insight on who the bad guys are – and why they might be targeting your enterprise. Go here for more information on this free event.

Consequently, humans tend to be the weakest link when it comes to keeping attackers from reaching organizations' most sensitive assets. Organizations suffer the most significant risk from threats when employees allow attackers to gain an insider position through phishing or other social engineering means. The weaknesses in internal network protections then give those attackers free rein to move at will in pursuit of high value IT assets. 

"Overall, our results conclude that humans — employees, vendors, and customers — still represent the greatest vulnerability as they are prone to social engineering techniques, shortcuts, or inadvertent oversights in the IT/security management process," Weber says.

Interestingly, though midsized organizations perform best when it comes to security operations, they actually did most poorly when it came to social engineering and phishing. This likely comes down to smaller organizations operating in more intimate environments, according to the report, whereas larger organizations tend to operate in more bureaucratic environments that require and audit security awareness training and strictly administer rules and processes that prevent social engineering. 

Related Content:

 

 

 

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Windows 10 Migration: Getting It Right
Kevin Alexandra, Principal Solutions Engineer at BeyondTrust,  5/15/2019
Baltimore Ransomware Attack Takes Strange Twist
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/14/2019
When Older Windows Systems Won't Die
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  5/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-12184
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-19
There is XSS in browser/components/MarkdownPreview.js in BoostIO Boostnote 0.11.15 via a label named flowchart, sequence, gallery, or chart, as demonstrated by a crafted SRC attribute of an IFRAME element, a different vulnerability than CVE-2019-12136.
CVE-2019-12173
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-18
MacDown 0.7.1 (870) allows remote code execution via a file:\\\ URI, with a .app pathname, in the HREF attribute of an A element. This is different from CVE-2019-12138.
CVE-2019-12172
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-17
Typora 0.9.9.21.1 (1913) allows arbitrary code execution via a modified file: URL syntax in the HREF attribute of an AREA element, as demonstrated by file:\\\ on macOS or Linux, or file://C| on Windows. This is different from CVE-2019-12137.
CVE-2019-12168
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-17
Four-Faith Wireless Mobile Router F3x24 v1.0 devices allow remote code execution via the Command Shell (aka Administration > Commands) screen.
CVE-2019-12170
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-17
ATutor through 2.2.4 is vulnerable to arbitrary file uploads via the mods/_core/backups/upload.php (aka backup) component. This may result in remote command execution. An attacker can use the instructor account to fully compromise the system using a crafted backup ZIP archive. This will allow for PH...