The cost of data breaches amounted to more than 20% of revenue, on top of substantial loss of customers and opportunities, for more than a third of organisations breached in 2016, a report has revealed.
It found that more than a fifth of breached organisations lost customers, with 40% losing more than 20% of their customer base; some 29% lost revenue, with 38% losing more than 20% of revenue; and 23% lost business opportunities, with 42% losing more than 20% in revenue.
However, 90% of these organisations are improving threat defence technologies and processes after attacks, according to the latest cyber security report from Cisco.
More than a third are separating IT and security functions, 38% are increasing security awareness training for employees, and 37% are implementing risk mitigation techniques.
Cisco surveyed nearly 3,000 chief security officers (CSOs) and security operations leaders from 13 countries.
The report highlights challenges and opportunities for security teams in defending against the relentless evolution of cyber crime and shifting attack modes.
CSOs cited budget constraints, poor compatibility of systems and a lack of trained talent as the biggest barriers to advancing their security capabilities.
Respondents also revealed that their security departments were increasingly complex environments, with 65% of organisations using six to more than 50 security products, increasing the potential for security gaps. As the sophistication of cyber attacks continues to rise at an unprecedented pace, the report said defenders were struggling to improve threat defence to match this growth and ensure they have controls in place to cover the entire network. The UK sits at the bottom of the list of countries that are effectively managing this balance, with Mexico and India storming ahead. The report shows that cyber criminals are exploiting those gaps through a resurgence of “classic” attack methods such as adware and email spam, which has returned to levels last seen in 2010. Spam accounts for nearly two-thirds of email, with 8-10% being malicious. Global spam volume is rising, often spread by large and thriving botnets, the report said.
Dan Sloshberg, cyber resiliency expert at Mimecast, said email is an organisation’s weakest link. “It’s no surprise that spam, about a tenth of which is malicious, is at its highest level since 2010. “Cyber criminals haven’t rediscovered this vulnerability, they’ve simply improved their tactics. Email accounts for 91% of all cyber attacks, from botnet-sent spam through to carefully curated messages targeting and impersonating senior executives,” he said. Considering that nearly all organisational information passes through inboxes at some point, Sloshberg said the threat to personal and intellectual data is significant once a hacker gains access. “The stakes are even higher with the growth of impersonation and ransomware attacks, which, if successful, are costing organisations more than ever, so a proactive approach to cyber resilience is essential,” he said.
The annual report tracks progress in reducing “time to detection” (TTD) – the window of time between a compromise and the detection of a threat – and according to the latest report, Cisco has reduced the TTD from a median of 14 hours in early 2016 to as low as six hours in the second half of 2016. The data is based on opt-in telemetry gathered from Cisco security products deployed worldwide. “A new metric – the ‘time to evolve’ [TTE] – looked at how quickly threat actors changed their attacks to mask their identity,” said David Ulevitch, vice-president and general manager of the security business at Cisco. “With TTD, TTE and other measures gleaned from report findings, and working with organisations to automate and integrate their threat defence, we can better help them minimise financial and operational risk and grow their business,” he said.
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