Is antivirus the only thing in your security plan?

Think again! Increased demand for information means potentially more exposure to data exploitation

Key Takeaway

Advanced attacks  will be the biggest financial threats to your organisation’s cyber security. You need advanced solutions and a complete endpoint security plan to manage this.

What do you think has been singled out as the risk of highest concern for Singapore, Japan and Malaysia? According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Risk Report, it is cyber-attack.

Traditional security measures not good enough

In fact, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim recently announced a new, standalone Cybersecurity Act to be tabled in next year’s Parliament. This Act, once instituted, will provide for stronger and more proactive powers in response to cyber-attacks growing in boldness, speed and sophistication.


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All these show that traditional security measures such as antivirus (AV) are no longer sufficient in today’s increasingly sophisticated digital landscape. Yet,  AV is by far the most widely deployed endpoint protection solution, with more than 90 percent of corporate devices running AV software.

Where the new security threats are coming from

The biggest bullies are no longer historic nuisance malware that impairs system performance. Advanced threats are the new kid on the block, running amok in the systems of organisations, causing way more damage than was possible before.

Today’s security battle is being waged at the endpoint which means :

  • servers;
  • desktop and laptop computers;
  • mobile devices; and
  • fixed-function device such as point-of-sale machines.

This is because that’s where organisations’ critical information resides.

Advanced threats are targeted while malware usually aims for a maximum attack surface and is widely distributed.

These advanced threats – the brainchild of highly sophisticated cyber criminals, aim to control or destroy an infected system with the goal of stealing economic or strategically important information.

Advanced threats differ from nuisance malware in two distinct ways:

  • advanced threats are targeted while malware usually aims for a maximum attack surface and is widely distributed. This means that the attacker specifically chooses the victim.
  • advance threats are driven by human interaction. Rather than a piece of automated code, the attackers interact with the target computers, enabling them to use existing tools on the system to accomplish their goals.

The sophistication of these threats allow it to typically stay undetected for months or even years. According to a report by Ponemon Institute, organisations take an average of 256 days to identify a breach and 100-120 days to response and mitigate, altogether costing the companies an average of USD$3.8mn per breach.

AV can’t keep up

With AV powerless against today’s company-crippling advanced threats, it has resulted in a huge gap in endpoint protection, exposing both large enterprises and SMBs’ alike to a wide range of advanced attacks, costing them millions of dollars. Clearly the traditional approach to endpoint protection is no longer effective.

What organisations need is a paradigm shift in their approach to security investments, evolving and upgrading their defenses to keep pace with these threats. This new generation of defense that has been specifically developed to address advance threats is known as the Next Generation Endpoint Security (NGES).

NGES goes beyond AV’s reactive approach to security and takes on a proactive stance. It continuously scans, monitors and collects data from an organisation’s endpoints. By recording an adversary’s every move, security teams can pinpoint the root cause of an attack and ultimately stop the adversary from successfully executing a similar attack in future.

It is an arms race

Currently, organisations are still prioritising their investments on antivirus over advanced endpoint threat protection. This investment model is inverted and Chief Security Officers (CSO) need to re-evaluate and invest in solutions that can address the strategic and economic risk of today’s attacks.

Every organisation, regardless of size or industry, can be and will be a target.

As advanced attacks grow to be the biggest financial threat to organisations’ cyber security, it is imperative that advanced solutions should make up the majority of an organisation’s endpoint security budget.

With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), our endpoints will only grow hungrier for more information. This means more attack vectors for cyber criminals and even more data that can be exploited and held ransom.

In February 2016, a hospital in California paid a ransom of USD$17,000 to hackers who had infiltrated their network and encrypted their files. In March 2016, another hospital in Kentucky found themselves in a state of emergency after a similar form of attack.

Every organisation, regardless of size or industry, can be and will be a target. And until these organisations arm themselves with the appropriate security measures, they run the risk of losing millions of dollars in damages.

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Headline image courtesy Matthew Wiebe@stocksnap.io
#cyberattack #cybersecurity

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