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The McAfee report Risk and Compliance Outlook: 2012, has been published and has discovered Database Security and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) were among the top priorities due to an increase in Advanced Persistent Threats (APT).

Database hold the valuable data the criminals are searching for, it therefore follows that Database Security is a growing issue and one flagged as the biggest concern. The report indicates that over one quarter of those surveyed had either had a breach or did not have the visibility to detect a breach. This is a huge concern when considering that most compliance requirements are concerned with knowing if a breach could or has occurred for example Payment Card Industry Compliance (PCI DSS) and the pending European Wide Data Protection Act.

The other major was Security Information Event Management (SIEM) which correlates well with the fears over Database Security with approximately 40% of organizations planning on implementing or update their SIEM solution.

Key findings of the report:

  • Similar to the 2011 survey, there is a positive trend in security budgets for 2012 with 96% of the organizations indicating same or more expenditure on risk and compliance
  • Organization state ‘Compliance’ as the driver for almost 30% of IT projects
  • Software and Appliance are the top choices for Risk and Compliance products. On average, one-third of all organizations prioritized the upgrade/implementation of unique risk and compliance products to address vulnerability assessment, patch management, remediation, governance, risk management, and compliance
  • Survey data showed rapid uptake towards Hosted SaaS and Virtualization. Nearly 40% organizations claim to be moving towards these deployment models in 2012
  • Patch Management frequency is a challenge – almost half of the organizations patch on a monthly basis with one-third doing it on a weekly basis. Just like last year’s analysis, not all companies are able to pinpoint threats or vulnerabilities, as a result, 43% indicate that they over-protect and patch everything they can

“Managing risk through security and compliance continues to be a leading concern for organizations the world over,” said Jill Kyte, vice president of security management at McAfee. “Meeting the requirements of increasingly demanding regulations while reducing exposure to the new classes of sophisticated threats and having an accurate understanding of risk and compliance at any point in time — can be challenging. To address this issue, organizations are looking to ‘best-of-breed’ solutions to manage all aspects of their risk and compliance needs and reduce the amount of time spent managing multiple solutions.”

Some other headline findings of the survey show:

  • Visibility is a pervasive challenge organizations continually face in managing their IT risk posture. The issues revolve around having the visibility to see vulnerabilities within their processes and controlling the ever-changing internal and external threat vectors
  • 80% of the survey respondents recognize the importance of visibility; more than 60% have about the same visibility they had in 2010; 27% improved their visibility since 2010; and 8% now have less visibility compared to 2010
  • The top two controls that respondents have implemented to manage risk and subsequently their compliance postures are the monitoring of databases and of configuration changes for the entire enterprise environment/ infrastructure
  • Approximately 60% of surveyed organizations view SIEM solutions as an important solution to provide real-time visibility into their applications, databases, system performance, and event correlation

A summary of the whole report is below along with a link to the full report.

Risk and Compliance Posture

During 2011, over 60% of the respondents implemented and updated existing tools to improve the visibility and control of their IT processes in an effort to minimize organizational risk. Product groupings include:

  • Risk Management
  • Application, Database and Network Vulnerability Assessment
  • Log Management and Security Information Event Management (SIEM)
  • Database Activity Monitoring
  • Policy Compliance Assessment and Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC)

Respondents indicate that their 2012 implementation and upgrade priorities include

  • Risk Management at 19% and 18% respectively
  • Vulnerability Assessment at 18% and 19%
  • Patch Management at 16% and 21%
  • SIEM at 16% and 21%
  • Further, 48% of the respondents (an increase of 8% over last year) indicate that their organizations have updated/deployed a GRC solution in 2011 in an effort to aggregate and monitor organizational risk and compliance status

Overall it appears that enterprises recognize that they cannot efficiently address risk unless they understand what they are up against and can apply the appropriate controls. Without this knowledge and insight, the effectiveness of any security and compliance efforts cannot be effectively measured against the risks there are:

  • 39% of incidents involved a negligent employee or contractor
  • 37% concerned a malicious or criminal attack
  • 24% involved system glitches including a combination of both IT and business process failures

Mainline cybercriminals continued to automate and streamline their method du jour of high-volume, low-risk attacks against weaker targets. Most victims fell prey because they were found to possess an (often easily) exploitable weakness rather than because they were pre-identified for attack. Given this, it’s not surprising that most breaches were avoidable (at least in hindsight) without difficult or expensive countermeasures

Patch Management

At the time they wrote the report McAfee believed there are over 49,000 known common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE’s) as reported by US-Cert National Vulnerability Database (NVD).

During 2011 the NVD reported 3,532 vulnerabilities, which translates to about ten new security vulnerabilities being discovered each day. While the rate of newly discovered vulnerabilities is impressive, the good news is that the trend is on a descending path: 4,258 vulnerabilities were reported in 2010 and the peak was in 2008, when almost 7,000 vulnerabilities were reported.

More than half of the surveyed companies indicated they know precisely which assets need to be patched when new threats materialize to prevent the threats from impacting their businesses. Conversely, 15% of the surveyed indicate they are not confident in their ability to know which assets to patch when new threats materialize.

Comparison of patch cycle (weekly, monthly, and quarterly) to confidence levels shows that that as the patching frequency declines so does an organization’s confidence. Specific analysis shows:

  • Organizations with weekly patching practice – 53% feel confident about patching of assets
  • Organizations with monthly patching practice – 49% feel confident about patching of assets
  • Organizations with quarterly patching practice – 43% feel confident about patching of assets

SIEM

Ever changing threats, data breaches, and IT complexity add additional burdens to the already difficult tasks associated with having the visibility necessary to monitor security events, detect attacks, and assess real and potential damage.

Near real-time visibility is critical to any risk management program in today’s complex and diverse computing environments. Without it, organizations are flying blind.

Similar to last year,

  • approximately half of the respondents spend 6 to 10 hours per month on risk management activities that assess and correlate the impact of threats on their organizations
  •  7% of small organizations (1,000 or less employees) spend 15-20 hours on risk and threat activities
  • 16% of organizations with more than 1,000 employees spent 15-20 hours on risk and threat activities

Policy Compliance and Configuration Challenges in Achieving Compliance

Regardless if an organization views industry standards and compliance mandates as a way to improve their practices or as a necessary evil, implementing standards is just the beginning of the road to compliance.

The real challenge often lies in maintaining compliance over time, especially as compliance standards and mandates evolve and increase in number. Organizations need to recognize:

  • Business and technology boundaries are constantly changing, expanding
  • New technology brings new risks, new processes and thus new compliance issues
  • Businesses require flexibility to maintain competitiveness – rigid controls can hinder flexibility, thus hurt operational effectiveness.

According to the Ponemon Institute

“True Cost of Compliance” study: “…while the average cost of compliance for the organizations in our study is $3.5 million, the cost of non-compliance is much greater. The average cost for organizations that experience non-compliance related problems is nearly $9.4 million.”

Database Security When asked about sensitive database breaches,

  • 12% of the organizations stated that they have experienced a breach
  • 15% “are not sure”

These results indicate weakness in security control effectiveness and a lack of visibility. Conversely, three-fourths of the respondents overall and in particular those from North America, Germany and the UK, indicate that their databases have never been breached.

According to Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna in his most recent database security market overview report:

“The database security market is likely to converge with the overall data security market in the future, as DBMS vendors extend the security features that are bundled with their products”.

Mr Yuhanna’s market insight closely corresponds with our respondents’ use of database security solutions:

  • 49% of the organizations use dedicated database security solutions; McAfee, followed by Oracle, tops the list of database security solution providers
  • 42% of the organizations use DBMS vendor security features to protect their databases
  • As compared to 34% organizations from Brazil, a higher number of organizations from France (66%) and the UK (58%) have dedicated database security solutions. Regional analysis shows 61% of Brazil-based organizations use DBMS vendor security features compared to 36% of the North American organizations. IBM holds a strong market share in North America, France and Germany as compared to its share in APAC and the UK.

The link to the full McAfee report is here.

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