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
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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/27/2020
The Problem with Artificial Intelligence in Security
Dr. Leila Powell, Lead Security Data Scientist, Panaseer,  5/26/2020
How an Industry Consortium Can Reinvent Security Solution Testing
Henry Harrison, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Garrison,  5/21/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8603
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
A cross-site scripting vulnerability (XSS) in Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 6.5 may allow a remote attacker to tamper with the web interface of affected installations. User interaction is required to exploit this vulnerability in that the target must visit a malicious page or ...
CVE-2020-8604
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
A vulnerability in Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 6.5 may allow remote attackers to disclose sensitive informatoin on affected installations.
CVE-2020-8605
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
A vulnerability in Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 6.5 may allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on affected installations. Authentication is required to exploit this vulnerability.
CVE-2020-8606
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
A vulnerability in Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance 6.5 may allow remote attackers to bypass authentication on affected installations of Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance.
CVE-2020-11075
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-27
In Anchore Engine version 0.7.0, a specially crafted container image manifest, fetched from a registry, can be used to trigger a shell escape flaw in the anchore engine analyzer service during an image analysis process. The image analysis operation can only be executed by an authenticated user via a...