Cyber-attacks greater national threat than physical attacks: Survey

  • Cyber-Ark survey interviewed 989 IT and C-level execs across N. America, Europe and Asia Pacific
  • More than half of all businesses believe hackers are already inside their networks

Cyber-attacks greater national threat than physical attacks: SurveyABOUT 80% of C-level executives and IT security professionals believe that cyber-attacks pose a greater risk to their nation than physical attacks, while 51% believe a cyber-attacker is currently in their corporate network, or has been in the past year.
The findings are part of Cyber-Ark’s seventh annual Global Advanced Threat Landscape survey, developed through interviews with 989 IT and C-level executives across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
Analysis of this year’s survey shows that continued reports of nation-based attacks on global critical infrastructure and businesses, combined with high-profile data breaches such as the NSA (the US National Security Agency) leak, have made the industry acutely aware of the threat that today’s cyber-attackers pose.
Despite this awareness, businesses still have a lot of work to do to secure the enterprise from advanced attacks, Cyber-Ark said in a statement.
Cyber-attackers are continuing to breach perimeter security at an accelerated rate, the information security and identity management company said.
As a result, businesses need to assume the attackers are already inside their network and focus on securing the access points to the critical data and assets that the attackers covet.
“People around the world are acutely aware of the global threat cyber-attacks represent,” said John Worrall, chief marketing officer of Cyber-Ark.
“Cyber-attackers have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to disrupt national financial systems, cause harm to critical infrastructure and severely damage businesses and economies.
“To achieve their goals, outside attackers must steal the privileged credentials of an authorised user to gain the access necessary to meet their objectives. This level of threat requires a proactive approach to security that protects and monitors the access points to the critical data and assets that attackers are targeting,” he added.

Cyber-attacks greater national threat than physical attacks: Survey

Key findings of the 2013 survey include:

1) Advanced attacks represent grave threats to national security, business and the economy

  • 80% of respondents believe that cyber-attacks pose a greater threat to their nation than physical attacks.
    • In last year’s survey, 71% of respondents indicated they were more fearful of insider attacks than outside cyber-attacks, but almost two-thirds of respondents indicated that external cyber-attack threats would become a greater security risk in one to three years. This year’s survey validates that notion.
  • 61% of respondents believe that government and legislative action can help protect critical infrastructure against advanced threats. This number was the lowest in the United States, where only 57% believe legislation will be an effective tool, as opposed to 64% of respondents in Europe and 61% in Asia Pacific.

2) The perceived failure of perimeter security – attackers already inside

  • Advanced attacks are almost always precipitated by perimeter-oriented tactical aggressions, such as phishing attempts. The increasing ease with which attackers are breaching the enterprise perimeter is eroding confidence in perimeter security.
  • 57% of respondents believe their company puts too much faith in perimeter security.
  • 51% of respondents believe a cyber-attacker is currently on their network – or has been in the past year.

3) Privileged accounts as an advanced threat vulnerability

  • It’s been firmly established through multiple industry reports that privileged accounts have emerged as the primary target for advanced enterprise attacks.  Privileged accounts consist of privileged and administrative accounts, default and hardcoded passwords, application backdoors, and more.
  • 64% of respondents indicate they are now managing privileged accounts as an advanced threat security vulnerability.
  • Despite this growing awareness, 39% of respondents either don’t know how to identify where privileged accounts exist or are doing so manually.
    • In a recent survey, Cyber-Ark discovered that 86% of large enterprises either don’t know or had grossly underestimated the magnitude of their privileged account security problem.

4) Companies lose control of privileges in the cloud

  • 56% of respondents do not know what their cloud service providers are doing to protect and monitor privileged accounts.
  • 25% of respondents felt they were better equipped to protect their confidential information than their cloud provider – and yet they still entrust the third party with their data.

The full survey can be downloaded for free here.
Related Stories:
Adaptive identities coming to forefront of security: RSA
USA vs the world: The problems with PRISM
How the PRISM surveillance scandal affects Asia
Security no longer about ‘no,’ but ‘know’
Security as a business enabler, not a bottleneck
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