With ransomware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the rise, the average number of focused cyber attacks per organisation has more than doubled this year compared to the previous 12 months (232 through January 2018 versus 106 through January 2017). In the face of these growing cyber threats, organisations are demonstrating far more success in detecting and blocking them, according to a study from Accenture.
Yet, despite making significant progress, only two out of five organisations are currently investing in breakthrough technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, indicating there is even more ground to be gained by increasing investment in cyber resilient innovations and solutions.
Despite the increased pressure of ransomware attacks, which more than doubled in frequency last year, the study found organisations are upping their game and now preventing 87% of all focused attacks compared to 70% in 2017. However, with 13% of focused attacks penetrating defenses, organisations are still facing an average of 30 successful security breaches per year which cause damage or result in the loss of high-value assets.
“Only one in eight focused cyber attacks are getting through versus one in three last year, indicating that organisations are doing a better job of preventing data from being hacked, stolen or leaked,” said Kelly Bissell, managing director of Accenture Security. “While the findings of this study demonstrate that organisations are performing better at mitigating the impact of cyber attacks, they still have more work to do. Building investment capacity for wise security investments must be a priority for those organisations who want to close the gap on successful attacks even further. For business leaders who continue to invest in and embrace new technologies, reaching a sustainable level of cyber resilience could become a reality for many organisations in the next two to three years. That’s an encouraging projection.”
It’s also taking less time to detect a security breach; from months and years to now days and weeks. On average, 89% of respondents said their internal security teams detected breaches within one month compared to only 32% of teams last year. This year, 55% of organisations took one week or less to detect a breach compared to 10% last year.
Although companies are detecting breaches faster, security teams are still only finding 64% of them, which is similar to last year, and they’re collaborating with others outside their organisations to find the remaining breaches. This underscores the importance of collaborative efforts among business and government sectors to stop cyber attacks. When asked how they learn about attacks that the security team has been unable to detect, respondents indicated that more than one-third (38%) are found by white-hat hackers or through a peer or competitor (up from 15%, comparatively, in 2017). Interestingly, only 15% of undetected breaches are found through law enforcement, which is down from 32% the previous year.
On average, respondents said only two-thirds (67%) of their organisation is actively protected by their cyber security programme. And, while external incidents continue to pose a serious threat, the survey reveals that organisations should not forget about the enemy from within. Two of the top three cyber attacks with the highest frequency and greatest impact are internal attacks and accidentally published information.
When asked which capabilities were most needed to fill gaps in their cyber security solutions, the top two responses were cyber threat analytics and security monitoring (46% each). Organisations realize the benefits derived from investing in emerging technologies. A large majority of respondents (83%) agree that new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine or deep learning, user behaviour analytics, and blockchain are essential to securing the future of organisations.
Five steps organisations can take to achieve cyber resilience include:
- Build a strong foundation. Identify high value assets and harden them. Ensure controls are deployed across the organisational value chain, not just the corporate function.
- Pressure test resilience like an attacker. Enhance red defence and blue defence teams with player-coaches that move between them and provide analysis on where improvements need to be made.
- Employ breakthrough technologies. Free up investment capacity to invest in technologies that can automate your defences. Utilise automated orchestration capabilities and advanced behavioural analytics.
- Be proactive and use threat hunting. Develop strategic and tactical threat intelligence tailored to your environment to identify potential risks. Monitor for anomalous activity at the most likely points of attack.
- Evolve the role of CISO. Develop the next generation CISO — steeped in the business and balancing security based on business risk tolerance.