Prevention is still the main pillar of corporate cybersecurity, says the report ‘New Threats, New Mindset: Being Risk Ready in a World of Complex Attacks’ from Kaspersky Lab. However, if an attack has already come through, detection and response are critical: immediate detection reduces the average cost of recovery more than twice — from $1.2m to $456k for enterprises. In light of recent advanced attacks and epidemic outbreaks like WannaCry and ExPetr, organisations should now be asking themselves ‘what happens when I get hit?’. But, with businesses finding it hard to even identify when a security breach has happened, that, according to the report, is an extremely difficult question to answer.
Complex attacks and growing uncertainty
Cybercriminals, their skillsets and weapons, vary dramatically – from less sophisticated crooks that bully the least protected companies by striking at mass, to advanced military-like groups of hackers that target ‘big prizes’ with multi-layered operations that may not even involve any malware. And while it is relatively simple to escape a bully’s sloppy fists, when encountering a skillful attacker, you should be prepared to take a solid punch.
This year’s study reveals that targeted attacks have become one of the fastest growing threats in 2017, increasing in overall prevalence by 11% globally for large enterprises. And it is not only about the quantity of attacks: two-thirds of respondents from South Africa (64.4%) in the study agreed that threats are becoming more complex and for 42.6% it’s becoming difficult to tell the difference between generic and complex attacks.
This is becoming a major problem for businesses: 58.4% of businesses locally stated that they’re starting to realise that a security breach will happen to them at some point, while 45.5% are still unsure on the most effective strategy to respond to these threats. The scale of the problem is even more worrying as the study showed us that uncertainty is significantly higher (63%) among respondents globally who are IT security experts and are, therefore, more familiar with the issue.
The best incident response mix: technology, people and processes
Surprisingly, and despite the high level of uncertainty about their strategies, the majority of companies (78% in South Africa) believe that they spend enough or even overspend on protection from targeted attacks.
This is perhaps due to how threat protection is perceived: threats are sometimes merely seen as a technical problem to be solved through buying and deploying more advanced cybersecurity solutions. A more balanced approach to incident response, however, includes investing not only in the right technologies, but also in people with specific skillsets, and in the right processes.
Technology is one of the most important parts in this mix. As the study shows, there is a clear need for security solutions that go beyond prevention and provide a more complete package, also adding a detection and response functionality. For example, 61% of businesses locally agree that they need better tools to detect and respond to advanced persistent threats (APTs) and targeted attacks.
This is especially true, given the fact that detection speed is crucial in reducing the financial impact of an attack. According to the research, in the last year just a quarter (27%) of local companies discovered their most serious security incident within a day. However, immediate detection significantly lowers the average cost of recovery – for example from $1.2m for enterprises globally that take more than a week to detect the threat, to $456k for those that can detect a threat straight away.
People are another crucial component. 64% of businesses locally agree that they need to employ more specialists with specific experience in IT security, namely in SOC management, incident response and threat hunting. This is not surprising, as a lack of internal experts increases a company’s exposure to targeted attacks by 15% globally, and also increases the average financial impact of an attack on enterprises – from $930k to $1.1M.
But all in all, to be able to effectively combat complex cyberthreats, organisations also need to think about incident response as a process, not a destination. This means that there’s a need for a comprehensive incident investigation framework, comprised of always-on monitoring, advanced detection and critical security event mitigation.
‘Now that companies are starting to realise that cybersecurity breaches are a real risk to their business continuity, it’s time to give incident response the attention it deserves. It can no longer be a small part of the IT security department’s responsibilities, and should instead involve strategic planning and investment at the highest level. For organisations, this doesn’t mean becoming risk-free but it will certainly help to become risk-ready and survive a serious breach when it happens”, says Alessio Aceti, head of Enterprise Business Division at Kaspersky Lab.
The full report ‘New Threats, New Mindset: Being Risk Ready in a World of Complex Attacks’ is available here.