New Research From Fidelis Security Systems And IANS Shows Heightened Need For Advanced Threat Defense

Survey underscores the heightened risk associated with content-layer threats

May 18, 2012

3 Min Read


WALTHAM, MA – May 16, 2012 – Fidelis Security Systems, the market leader in network visibility, analysis, and control solutions for advanced threat defense, and IANS, the leading provider in-depth information security insights and decision support; today disclosed the results of a survey that underscores the heightened risk associated with content-layer threats – those where an attacker leverages malicious software in what the user believes is harmless content. In the survey of 105 information security practitioners – 67% from organizations with more than 5,000 employees – 38% reported suffering at least one breach in the last 24 months that resulted in critical information being stolen. Approximately 80% of the breaches that led to loss of data assets were executed via content-layer attacks. These include attacks via social networks, browser and file format vulnerabilities as well as phishing.

“It is clear the people behind these attacks have learned that organizations are particularly vulnerable to content-based threats and exploiting seemingly innocuous content provides the greatest opportunity to gain access to and steal critical data,” said Kevin Nassery, IANS Faculty member. “Because of the covert nature of these threats hidden within everyday content such as emails or PDFs, it’s easy for tools that are only looking for malicious threats at the doorway of the network to miss them.”

For the survey respondents that did not catch the content-based threats as they infiltrated the network, the loss of data ranged from intellectual property to employee information and classified information. In fact, customer data was stolen in 54% of the content-layer breaches, compared to 13% of Internet-exposed service breaches.

Despite the significant loss of data reported, most of the survey respondents – 82% – felt they were appropriately protecting data from content-layer threats such as malware embedded in email and documents.

“Our conclusion, which is cause for concern, is that companies are mistakenly presuming their traditional security tools are sufficient, when in fact, a new kind of advanced threat defense is required to discover and impede content-related attacks.” added Kurt Bertone, Chief Security Strategist at Fidelis Security Systems.

One of the main challenges for enterprises dealing with this volume of threats is that it’s difficult to know which ones are truly malicious and putting critical assets at risk and which ones are more of a nuisance. This is driving the need for an advanced threat defense posture that goes beyond detection to include real- or near-real time analysis in order to help security teams address the threats that can do the greatest potential harm first (see Fidelis Security Systems Integrates Malware Detection with Threat Analysis to Help Enterprises Improve Advanced Threat Defense).

A complete copy of the survey results as well as a detailed content-layer threat scenario can be downloaded at:

About Fidelis Security Systems Since 2002, Fidelis Security Systems has been providing organizations with the network visibility, analysis and control necessary to manage advanced threats and prevent data breaches. Built on a patented Deep Session Inspection®, platform, Fidelis XPS™ is the industry's only network security solution capable of seeing, studying, and stopping advanced threats in real-time by uniquely working at the session-level where today’s threats occur. Fidelis enables their government, military, and commercial enterprise customers around the globe to achieve proactive situational awareness, content protection, threat mitigation, and application activity control. Visit to learn more.

About IANS IANS is the leading provider of in-depth security insights and decision support delivered through research, community, and consulting. Fueled by interactions among IANS Faculty and end users, IANS’ experience-driven advice helps information security, risk management, and compliance executives make better, faster technical and managerial decisions. For more information and to access complimentary research on information security and IT risk management, visit

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