Over 33 percent of organizations that experienced a breach last year reported substantial customer, opportunity and revenue loss of more than 20 percent, a new report found.
Ninety percent of these organizations are improving threat defense technologies and processes after attacks by separating IT and security functions (38 percent), increasing security awareness training for employees (38 percent), and implementing risk mitigation techniques (37 percent), according to the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report (ACR).
The report surveyed nearly 3,000 chief security officers (CSOs) and security operations leaders from 13 countries in the Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, part of the Cisco ACR.
The global report highlights challenges and opportunities for security teams to defend against the evolution of cybercrime and shifting attack modes. CSOs cite budget constraints, poor compatibility of systems, and a lack of trained talent as the biggest barriers to advancing their security postures.
Leaders also said their security departments are increasingly complex environments with 65 percent of organizations using from six to more than 50 security products, increasing the potential for security effectiveness gaps.
To exploit these gaps, ACR data shows criminals leading a resurgence of “classic” attack vectors, such as adware and email spam, the latter at levels not seen since 2010. Spam accounts for nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of email with eight to 10 percent cited as malicious. Global spam volume is rising, often spread by large and thriving botnets.
Measuring effectiveness of security practices in the face of these attacks is critical. Cisco tracks progress in reducing “time to detection” (TTD), the window of time between a compromise and the detection of a threat. Faster time to detection is critical to constrain attackers’ operational space and minimize damage from intrusions. Cisco has successfully lowered the TTD from a median of 14 hours in early 2016 to six hours in the last half of the year. This figure is based on opt-in telemetry gathered from Cisco security products deployed worldwide.
The 2017 ACR revealed the potential financial impact of attacks on businesses, from enterprises to SMBs. More than 50 percent of organizations faced public scrutiny after a security breach. Operations and finance systems were the most affected, followed by brand reputation and customer retention. For organizations that experienced an attack, the effect was substantial:
• 22 percent of breached organizations lost customers — 40 percent of them lost more than 20 percent of their customer base.
• 29 percent lost revenue, with 38 percent of that group losing more than 20 percent of revenue.
• 23 percent of breached organizations lost business opportunities, with 42 percent of them losing more than 20 percent.
The 2017 ACR reports 56 percent of security alerts end up investigated and less than half of legitimate alerts remediated.
Defenders, while confident in their tools, battle complexity and manpower challenges, leaving gaps of time and space for attackers to utilize to their advantage. Cisco advises these steps to prevent, detect, and mitigate threats and minimize risk:
• Make security a business priority: Executive leadership must own and evangelize security and fund it as a priority.
• Measure operational discipline: Review security practices, patch, and control access points to network systems, applications, functions, and data.
• Test security effectiveness: Establish clear metrics. Use them to validate and improve security practices.
• Adopt an integrated defense approach: Make integration and automation high on the list of assessment criteria to increase visibility, streamline interoperability, and reduce the time to detect and stop attacks. Security teams then can focus on investigating and resolving true threats.
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