20 Apr 2021
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CISOs facing rising security debts

By Shannon Williams

Chief information security officers are facing a rising security debt to secure their organisations against an increasing volume of attacks by well-armed criminals. 

Yet despite going up against a criminal industry that enjoys advantages when it comes to speed and shared weaponry, CISOs and their teams report turning away increasing volume of attacks and preventing more of them from becoming breaches or compromises. 

That's the finds of a new report from cyber security provider F-Secure, in conjunction with Omnisperience.

In addition to the lure of successful high-profile ransomware attacks, service and affiliate models are making threat groups more effective. The sharing of tooling and offensive knowledge makes it easier to conduct more attacks against more targets.

An overwhelming percentage of the CISOs - 96% - acknowledge that they face a well-organised criminal industry motivated by financial gain, the report found.

Furthermore, about seven out of 10 CISOs, or 72% say adversaries are moving faster than they are, and a similar number, 69% say their adversaries have improved their attack capabilities in the last 12 to18 months.

"Despite pervasive security debt and reporting a rising number of cyber attacks, CISOs say that say the number of incidents, which includes a breach or unauthorised access to a system, they faced remained pretty much the same," says Michael Greaves, security advisor for Managed Detection and Response at F-Secure.

"This could be because CISOs have made the right investments. However, it is the incidents that haven't been discovered which worry us most," he says. 

"Because of the sophisticated nature of some of these attacks, organisations may not have the technology or people to identify they are in the middle of a compromise that, for example, may result in a ransomware deployment months down the road," Greaves adds.

The report covers numerous aspects of the complex dilemmas CISOs face on a daily basis, including:

  • Employees are the primary attack vector, according to 71% of the CISOs interviewed, as attackers take advantage of social channels to launch more sophisticated targeted attacks.
  • The top three threats CISOs and their teams face are phishing, ransomware and business email compromise (BEC).
  • Securing the mobile or remote workforce, which has exploded during the pandemic, presents a number of risks, particularly where employees and devices are separated from traditional controls that could prevent their compromise.
  • A vast majority of CISOs - 71% - report that their ideas about what constitutes good security has evolved recently.
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