Cyber security not just IT's problem: McAfee

The average cost of a data breach has grown to US$3.86 million, a new report suggests (Image matejmo / iStockPhoto)
IT security professionals are still struggling to defend against data breaches (Image matejmo / iStockPhoto)

IT security professionals are still struggling to fully secure their organizations and protect against breaches, according to a new report.

Almost two thirds (61%) of IT workers surveyed for McAfee’s Grand Theft Data II – The Drivers and Shifting State of Data Breaches said they have experienced a data breach at their current employer despite improvements in combating cyber crime and other threats.

Data breaches are becoming more serious as cyber criminals continue to target intellectual property putting the reputation of the company brand at risk and increasing financial liability.

IT departments need a cyber security strategy that includes implementing integrated security solutions combined with employee training and an overall culture of security throughout the organization to reduce future breaches.

Candace Worley, vice president and chief technical strategist at McAfee said threats have evolved and will continue to become even more sophisticated.

“Organizations need to augment security measures by implementing a culture of security and emphasizing that all employees are part of an organization's security posture, not just the IT team,” she said.

“To stay ahead of threats, it is critical companies provide a holistic approach to improving security process by not only utilizing an integrated security solution but also practicing good security hygiene.”

Highlights from McAfee’s report include:

  • Savvier thieves: Data is now being stolen by a wide range of methods, with no single technique dominating the industry. The top vectors used to exfiltrate data are database leaks, cloud applications and removable USB drives.

  • IP tied for 1st: Personally identifiable information (PII) and intellectual property (IP) are now tied as the data categories with the highest potential impact to 43% of respondents. In Asia-Pacific countries, intellectual property theft is of greater concern (51%) than PII.  

  • Blame game: IT is looked at as the culprit with 52% of respondents claiming IT is at fault for creating the most data leakage events. Business operations (29%) follows as the next most likely to be involved. Highly regulated internal groups including finance (12%) and legal (6%) were the most secure.

  • The great divide: Security technology continues to operate in isolation, with 81% reporting separate policies or management consoles for cloud access security broker (CASB) and data loss prevention (DLP), resulting in delayed detection and remediation actions.

  • Taking responsibility: There is a rift in regard to accountability – 55% of IT professionals believe that c-level executives should lose their job if a breach is serious enough, yet 61% also state that the c-level executives they work with expect more lenient security policies for themselves.

  • Future proofing: IT professionals are taking action, with almost two-thirds stating they have purchased additional DLP, CASB and endpoint detection solutions over the last 12 months. Respondents believe that between 65% and 80% of breaches experienced would have likely been prevented if one or more of these systems had been installed.

The stakes are higher as multiple attack methods are now used in a breach as cyber criminals continue to target personal data and intellectual property, said Worley.

“IT security teams are increasingly concerned about external threat actors compromising their network, which has forced more organizations to publicly disclose when breaches occur,” she said. “The severity of publicly disclosing breaches results not only in financial repercussions but damage to brand and reputation as well.”

Lilia Guan

CIO Australia

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