Organizations Are Failing To Learn From Phishing And Ransomware Attacks

phishing-mcshark.jpgWarwick Ashford, security editor at ComputerWeekly had an interesting observation after reading CyberArk's latest cyber threat report:

"Organisations are failing to learn from cyber attacks, and lax security practices are leaving organisations worldwide open to damaging cyber attacks"

"Respondents said the greatest cyber security threats they currently face are targeted phishing attacks (56%),insider threats (51%), ransomware or other malware (48%), unsecured privileged accounts (42%), and unsecured data stored in the cloud (41%). 

There is a worrying lack of action by businesses to improve security following an attack across the global technology industry, according to the latest cyber threat report by privileged account security firm CyberArk.

The report also highlights poor practices concerning cloud and endpoint security, and from security professionals themselves, putting sensitive data, infrastructure, assets and even employers at risk.

Every organization has something of value to a cyber attacker, and greater investments in cloud technologies and DevOps processes mean the attack surface is expanding exponentially, and attackers continue to target and exploit privileged accounts, credentials and secrets to accomplish their goals, the report said.

Nearly half (46%) of IT security professionals rarely change their security strategy substantially, even after experiencing a cyber attack, according to a CyberArk-commissioned poll of 1,300 IT security decision makers, developers and line of business owners in seven countries.

This level of cyber security inertia and failure to learn from past incidents puts sensitive data, infrastructure and assets at risk, the CyberArk report said.

The survey also revealed that while 89% of IT security professionals believe securing an environment starts with protecting privileged accounts and more than four in 10 cite it as a top security risk, more than a quarter (28%) are not putting this knowledge into action.

Demands for flexibility

The proportion of users who have local administrative privileges on their endpoint devices increased from 62% in 2016 to 87% in 2018, a 25% increase the report said could indicate that employee demands for flexibility have been allowed to trump security best practices.

The survey findings suggest security inertia has infiltrated many organisations, with an inability to repel or contain cyber threats and the resultant impact on the business.

This inertia is reflected in the fact that 46% of respondents said their organisation cannot prevent attackers from breaking into internal networks every time it is attempted, 36% said that administrative credentials are stored in Word or Excel documents on company PCs, and half admitted their customers’ privacy or PII (personally identifiable information) could be at risk because their data is not secured beyond the legally-required basics.

The report notes that the automated processes inherent in cloud and DevOps mean that privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are being created at a prolific rate. If compromised, the report said these can give attackers a crucial jumping-off point to achieve lateral access to sensitive data across networks, data and applications or to use cloud infrastructure for illicit crypto mining activities.

The survey shows that while organisations increasingly recognise this security risk, they still have a relaxed approach towards cloud security, with half of organisations polled having no privileged account security strategy for the cloud and more than two-thirds (68%) relying on built-in security capabilities.

“There are still gaps in the understanding of who is responsible for security in the cloud, even though the public cloud suppliers are very clear that the enterprise is responsible for securing cloud workloads. Additionally, few understand the full impact of the unsecured secrets that proliferate in dynamic cloud environments and automated processes,” the report said.

Overcoming cyber security inertia, the report said, requires cyber security to become central to organisational strategy and behavior, not something that is dictated by competing commercial needs.

According to the survey, 86% of IT security professionals feel security should be a regular board-level discussion topic, and 44% said they recognize or reward employees who help prevent an IT security breach, increasing to nearly three quarters (74%) in the US.

However, only 8% of companies continuously perform red team exercises to uncover critical vulnerabilities and identify effective responses. Investing in regular red team exercises could help determine where to focus efforts and prioritize risk reduction, the report said. 

Rich Turner, European vice-pesident at CyberArk, said cyber attackers are often able to penetrate traditional perimeter defences when targeting organisations that have not moved with the times. This was cross-posted with grateful acknowledgements.

Report: 52% of companies sacrifice security to expedite projects

Organizations can be exposed to vulnerabilities when professionals prioritize a deadline over security, according to research from Threat Stack.

  • 52% of companies admit to cutting corners on security to meet a project deadline. — Threat Stack, 2018
  • 68% of executives said their CEO doesn't want the security or DevOps teams to do anything that could slow a project down. — Threat Stack, 2018

More than half of companies admit to loosening security measures to expedite projects or meet deadlines, a new Threat Stack report found.

In a survey of over 200 executives, 52% said their company had prioritized a deadline or objective over the firm's security. The emphasis on speed over security could leave holes in a project, leaving a company vulnerable.

The focus on speed comes from pushback on both sides of a project, the report found. Over two-thirds—68%—of respondents said their CEO asks the DevOps and security teams to not do anything that would slow a project, while 62% said their operations team sometimes fights new security efforts.

The majority of respondents said SecOps is important for their organization, but only 35% said it was a complete or mostly complete project at their company. At 18% of companies, SecOps isn't established at all, the report found.

"The vast majority of companies are bought-in, but, unfortunately, a major gap exists between intent of practicing SecOps and the reality of their fast-growing businesses. It's important that stakeholders across every enterprise prioritize the alignment of DevOps and security," Brian Ahern, Threat Stack CEO, said in the press release.

Most of the challenges come from organizational alignment, the report found, as DevOps and security teams might be operating in different silos.

The discrepancy suggests companies should agree and focus on security to ensure their company remains safe, even under pressure from a deadline or the competition. More at:

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Topics: Phishing, Ransomware

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