IT Security Versus Cybercriminals: Who Will Win

April 30, 2018
Data Protection, IT Security, IT Services

computer in low lighting

Last year saw the biggest ransomware outbreak in history—WannaCry, as well as the infamous Equifax breach. In June, it was discovered almost 200 million voter records were exposed after a GOP data firm misconfigured the security setting for its Amazon cloud storage service.  And anyone contacting Verizon customer service in the first six months of 2017 may have been among the 14 million subscribers affected by a data breach.

Those are just a few of the record high 1,579 breaches noted in the 2017 Data Breach Year-End Review. So, it’s probably not surprising to learn that many organizations are experiencing an uptick in security challenges.  What is surprising — and disconcerting — is the percentage:  81%.

That was one of the results of US Signal’s recently released Security ‘Health of the Nation’ survey, and it begs the question: are we losing the war against cyber threats?

Why Cyber Attackers are Winning

We know cyber attackers are continuously evolving their tactics. New threats are appearing almost daily. But advanced security technologies and best practices are continuously being rolled out to thwart them — and there are a lot of smart people out there dedicated to the cause. So, what’s the problem?

Part of it could be due to a lack of resources dedicated to security. The US Signal survey showed that nearly 60% have only a small internal IT team to take on the challenge. Less than a quarter (21%) invest heavily in new technologies. An alarming 4% simply do nothing.

A lack of emphasis on insider threats may also play a role, along with a failure to implement email security best practices and phishing and internet safety education programs. Some companies find the use of mock phishing campaigns effective in at least identifying “click-prone” employees. But without follow-up “anti-phishing” education, the bad behaviors won’t change.  

US Signal’s survey did show that patches and updates are now top of mind for IT professionals, as many of the last year’s highly publicized breaches were achieved through the exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities. But patches and updates only work if they are consistently and immediately applied. Again, a lack of time and manpower can prevent a good security tactic from being deployed.

Know Your Friends and Your Enemies

The good news is these challenges aren't insurmountable. A key part of managing IT security threats is to know what they are in the first place. That’s not always easy given how quickly they emerge and evolve. But one thing about the IT security community is that it’s willing to share information and solutions. Take advantage of that.

One of the latest threats we’re seeing are fileless attacks, which are attacks that don’t use executable files. They pose problems for companies that rely solely on traditional security solutions like antivirus, which typically analyze executable files to detect anomalies.

Many vendors are adding features to their antivirus programs, so they can stand up to these new attack types. The problem is those features may require more active hands-on management than many IT teams can provide. They also entail more intensive whitelisting and far more false positives.  

Ransomware is still a major threat, so employing best practices to prevent it and to contain if it is successful in entering your systems is a must. However, there are signs that its prevalence may be declining. It’s proving not to be as profitable for criminals as few victims are paying ransoms. The volatility of cryptocurrency isn’t helping the criminal element either.

Ready to take its place, however, is cryptomining malware. It enables cybercriminals to harness the processing power of large numbers of computers, smartphones and other electronic devices to help them generate revenue from cryptocurrency mining. (We’ll tell you more about that in a future blog.)

The Case for Outsourcing and Assessments

There are many more examples, and they all make a strong case for outsourcing some or all your company’s IT security to a vendor that has the resources and knowledge to handle new and emerging threats. If that vendor can also help you deploy a multi-faceted security strategy — one that combines managed IT security, data protection, and remote management and monitoring, all the better. Add in secure cloud services, and your security posture becomes even stronger.

It doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. Outsourcing can save money and time by freeing up IT staffs to focus on revenue-generating initiatives rather than fighting malware all the time.

Plus, chances are you are doing many things right. Your security processes and practices may just need some embellishment. Or, a change in IT infrastructure that also allows you to switch from a CapEx to an OpEx model can possibly provide you with a more secure IT environment as well as cost savings.

Reinforce Your Security Posture

One way to find out how to up your ability to deal with cyber security issues is to undergo a technology assessment. US Signal offers technology assessments for IT security and data protection, as well as for IT benchmarking. Although they are customized to each organization’s specific needs, they generally include an assessment of IT practices and how they compare to those of similar organizations, followed by a review of short- and long-term business and technology objectives and a gap analysis to identify what you have and what you need to achieve your goals.

Learn how US Signal can help equip you to come out ahead of cybercriminals. Ask about our technology assessments, managed security services, and other IT solutions. Call 866.2. SIGNAL or email [email protected].