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The State of Cybersecurity in Healthcare Organizations in 2016

ESET and the Ponemon Institute have announced results of The State of Cybersecurity in Healthcare Organizations in 2016.

According to the study, healthcare organizations average about one cyber attack per month with 48% of respondents said their organizations have experienced an incident involving the loss or exposure of patient information during the last 12 months. Yet despite these incidents, only half indicated their organization has an incident response plan in place.

The concurrence of technology advances and delays in technology updates creates a perfect storm for healthcare IT security,” said Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at ESET. “The healthcare sector needs to organize incident response processes at the same level as cyber criminals to properly protect health data relative to current and future threat levels. A good start would be for all organizations to put incident response processes in place, including comprehensive backup and disaster recovery mechanisms. Beyond that, there is clearly a need for effective DDoS and malware protection, strong authentication, encryption and patch management

Key findings of the survey:

78% of respondents, the most common security incident is the exploitation of existing software vulnerabilities greater than three months old.

63% said the primary consequences of APTs and zero-day attacks were IT downtime

46% of respondents experienced an inability to provide services which create serious risks for patient treatment.

Hackers are most interested in stealing patient information

  • The most attractive and lucrative target for unauthorized access and abuse can be found in patients’ medical records, according to 81% of respondents.

Healthcare organizations worry most about system failures

  • 79% of respondents said that system failures are one of the top three threats facing their organizations
  • 77% cyber attackers
  • 77% unsecure medical devices

Technology poses a greater risk to patient information than employee negligence

  • 52% of respondents said legacy systems and new technologies to support cloud and mobile implementations, big data and the Internet of Things increase security vulnerabilities for patient information
  • 46% of respondents also expressed concern about the impact of employee negligence
  • 45% cited the ineffectiveness of HIPAA mandated business associate agreements designed to ensure patient information security

DDoS attacks have cost organizations on average $1.32 million in the past 12 months

  • 37% of respondents say their organization experienced a DDoS attack that caused a disruption to operations and/or system downtime about every four months. These attacks cost an average of $1.32 million each, including lost productivity, reputation loss and brand damage.

Healthcare organizations need a healthy dose of investment in technologies

  • On average, healthcare organizations represented in this research spend $23 million annually on IT
  • 12% on average is allocated to information security
  • Since an average of $1.3 million is spent annually for DDoS attacks alone, a business case can be made to increase technology investments to reduce the frequency of successful attacks

Based on our field research, healthcare organizations are struggling to deal with a variety of threats, but they are pessimistic about their ability to mitigate risks, vulnerabilities and attacks,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute. “As evidenced by the headline-grabbing data breaches over the past few years at large insurers and healthcare systems, hackers are finding the most lucrative information in patient medical records. As a result, there is more pressure than ever for healthcare organizations to refine their cybersecurity strategies

Cost of Phishing and Value of Employee Training

The Ponemon Institute has presented the results of it’s study the Cost of Phishing and Value of Employee Training sponsored by Wombat Security. The purpose of this research is to understand how training can reduce the financial consequences of phishing in the workplace.

Phishing

The research reveals the majority of costs caused by successful phishing attacks are the result of the loss of employee productivity. Based on the analysis described later in this report, Ponemon extrapolate an average improvement of 64% from six proof of concept training projects. This improvement represents the change in employees who fell prey to phishing scams in the workplace before and after training.

As a result of effective training provided by Wombat, Ponemon estimate a cost savings of $1.8 million or $188.4 per employee/user. If companies paid Wombat’s standard fee of $3.69 per user for a program for up to 10,000 users, Ponemon determine a very substantial net benefit of $184.7 per user, for a remarkable one-year rate of return at 50X.

To determine the cost structure of phishing, Ponemon  surveyed 377 IT and IT security practitioners in organizations in the United States. 39% of respondents are from organizations with 1,000 or more employees who have access to corporate email systems.

The topics covered in this research include the following:

  • The financial consequences of phishing scams
  • The financial impact of phishing on employee productivity
  • The cost to contain malware
  • The cost of malware not contained & the likelihood it will cause a material data breach
  • The cost of business disruption due to phishing
  • The cost to contain credential compromises
  • Potential cost savings from employee training

Phishing scams are costly. Often overlooked is the potential cost to organizations when employees are victimized by phishing scams. Ponemon’s cost analysis includes the cost to contain malware, the cost not contained, loss of productivity, the cost to contain credential compromises and the cost of credential compromises not contained. Based on these costs, the extrapolated total annual cost of phishing for the average-sized organization in Ponemon’s sample totals $3.77 million.

Summarized calculus on the cost of phishing. Estimated cost.
Part 1. The cost to contain malware $208,174
Part 2. The cost of malware not contained $338,098
Part 3. Productivity losses from phishing $1,819,923
Part 4. The cost to contain credential compromises $381,920
Part 5. The cost of credential compromises not contained $1,020,705
Total extrapolated cost $3,768,820

The average total cost to contain malware annually is $1.9 million. The first step in understanding the overall cost is to analyze the six tasks to contain malware infections. Drawing from the empirical findings of an earlier study, Ponemon  were able to derive cost estimates relating to six discrete tasks conducted by companies to contain malware infections in networks, enterprise systems and endpoints. The table below summarizes the annual hours incurred for six tasks by the average-sized organization on an annual basis. The largest tasks incurred to contain malware involve the cleaning and fixing of infected systems and conducting forensic investigations.

Documentation and planning represents the smallest tasks in terms of hours spent each year.

Six tasks to contain malware infections. Estimated hours per annum.

Planning 910
Capturing intelligence 3,806
Evaluating intelligence 2,844
Investigating 10,338
Cleaning & fixing 11,955
Documenting 671
Total hours 30,524

The annual cost to contain malware is based on the hours to resolve the incident. These cost estimates are based on a fully loaded average hourly labor rate for US-based IT security practitioners of $62. As can be seen, the extrapolated total cost to contain malware is $1.89 million.

The adjusted cost of malware containment resulting from phishing scams is $208,174 per annum. The final step in determining the cost of malware containment attributable to phishing is to calculate the percentage of malware incidents unleashed by successful phishing scams.

Response to the survey question, “What percent of all malware infections is caused by successful phishing scams?” The percentage rate of malware infections caused by phishing scams was based on Ponemon’s  independent survey of IT security practitioners. As can be seen, the estimated range is less than 1% to more than 50%. The extrapolated average rate is 11%.

Drawing from the above analysis, Ponemon estimate the cost of malware containment as 11% of the previously calculated total cost of $1.9 million.

Cost of malware not contained

In this section, Ponemon estimate the cost of malware not contained at the device level to be $105.9 million. In other words, this cost occurs because malware evaded traditional defenses such as firewalls, anti-malware software and intrusion prevention systems. In this state Ponemon  assume the malware becomes weaponized for attack.

Following are two attacks caused by weaponized malware:

  1. Data exfiltration (a.k.a. material data breach)
  2. Business disruptions

Ponemon determine a most likely cost using an expected cost framework, which is defined as:

Expected cost = Probable maximum loss (PML) x Likelihood of occurrence [over a 12-month period].

Respondents in Ponemon’s  survey were asked to estimate the probable maximum loss (PML) resulting from a material data breach (i.e., exfiltration) caused by weaponized malware. Ponemon’s research shows the distribution of maximum losses ranging from less than $10 million to more than $500 million.

The extrapolated average PML resulting from data exfiltration is $105.9 million.

What is the likelihood of weaponized malware causing a material data breach? In the context of this research, a material data breach involves the loss or theft of more than 1,000 records. Respondents were asked to estimate the likelihood of this occurring. According to the research the probability distribution ranges from less than .1% to more than 5%. The extrapolated average likelihood of occurrence is 1.9 percent over a 12-month period.

The cost of business disruption due to phishing is $66.9 million. Respondents were asked to estimate the PML resulting from business disruptions caused by weaponized malware. Business disruptions include denial of services, damage to IT infrastructure and revenue losses. The research shows the distribution of maximum losses ranging from less than $10 million to $500 million. The extrapolated average PML resulting from data exfiltration is $66.9 million.

How likely are business disruptions due to weaponized malware? Respondents were asked to estimate the likelihood of material business disruptions caused by weaponized malware. The research shows the probability distribution ranging from less than .1% to more than 5%. The extrapolated average likelihood of occurrence is 1.6% over a 12-month period.

The table below shows the expected cost of malware attacks relating to data exfiltration ($2 million) and disruptions to IT and business processes ($1.1 million). The total amount of $3.1 million is adjusted for the 11% of malware attacks originating from phishing scams, which yields an estimated cost of $338,098 per annum.

Recap for the cost of malware not contained Calculus
Probable maximum loss resulting from data exfiltration $105,900,000
Likelihood of occurrence over the next 12 months 1.90%
Expected value $2,012,100
Probable maximum loss resulting from business disruptions (including denial of services, damage to IT infrastructure and revenue losses) $66,345,000
Likelihood of occurrence over the next 12 months 1.60%
Expected value $1,061,520
Total cost of malware not contained $3,073,620
Percentage rate of malware infections caused by phishing scams 11%
Adjusted total cost attributable to phishing scams $338,098

Employees waste an average of 4.16 hours annually due to phishing scams. As previously discussed, the majority of costs (52%) are due to the decline in employee productivity as a result of being phished. In this section, Ponemon estimate the productivity losses associated with phishing scams experienced by employees during the workday. Drawing upon Ponemon’s  survey research, Ponemon  extrapolated the total hours spent each year by employees/users viewing and possibly responding to phishing emails.

The research shows the distribution of time wasted for the average employee (office worker) due to phishing scams. The range of response is less than 1 hour to more than 25 hours per employee each year.

What is the cost to respond to a credential compromise? In this section, Ponemon estimate the costs incurred by organizations to contain credential compromises that originated from a successful phishing attack, including the theft of cryptographic keys and certificates. Ponemon’s  first step in this analysis is to estimate the total number of compromises expected to occur over the next 12 months. The range of responses includes zero to more than 10 incidents.

How likely will a material data breach occur if the credential compromise is not contained? Respondents were asked to estimate the likelihood of a material data breach caused by credential compromise. Ponemon’s research shows the probability distribution ranging from less than .1% to 5%. The extrapolated average likelihood of occurrence is 4% over a 12-month period.

In this section, Ponemon estimates the potential cost savings that result from employee education that provides actionable advice and raises awareness about phishing and other related topics. As a starting point to this analysis, Ponemon obtained six proof of concept studies completed for six large companies.

These reports provided detailed findings that show the phishing email click rate for employees both before and after training. Ponemon provides the actual improvements experienced by companies, ranging from 26 to 99%, respectively. The average improvement for all six companies is 64%.

As a result of Wombat’s training on phishing that includes mock attacks and follow-up with indepth training, Ponemon estimate a high knowledge retention rate. Based on well-known research, training that focuses on actual practices should result in an average retention rate of approximately 75%. Applying this retention rate against the average improvement shown in the six proof of concept studies, Ponemon  estimate a net long-term improvement in fighting phishing scams of 47.75%.

Proof of concept results Improvement %
Company A 99%
Company B 72%
Company C 54%
Company D 26%
Company E 62%
Company F 69%
Average improvement 64%
Expected diminished learning retention over time (1-75%) 25%
Average net improvement 47.75%

The figures below provides a simple analysis of potential cost savings accruing to organizations that use an effective training approach to mitigating phishing scams. As shown before, Ponemon estimate a total cost of phishing for an average-sized organization at $3.77 million.

Assuming a net improvement of 47.75%, Ponemon estimate a cost savings of $1.80 million or $188.40 per employee/user. At a fee of $3.69 per employee/user, Ponemon determine a very substantial net benefit of $184.71 per user, or a one-year rate of return of 50X.

Calculating net benefit of Wombat training on phishing Calculus
Total cost of phishing $3,768,820
Estimated cost savings assuming net improvement at 47.75% $1,799,612
Extrapolated headcount for the average-sized organization 9,552
Estimated cost savings per employee $188.40
Estimated fee of Wombat training per user $3.69
Estimated net benefit of Wombat training per user $184.71
Estimated one-year rate of return = Net benefit ÷ Fee 50X

Survey Shows Lack of Trust, Limited Visibility and Knowledge Gap between the Board and IT Security Professionals

There are significant gaps in cybersecurity knowledge, shared visibility and mutual trust between those who serve on organizations’ board of directors and IT security professionals. These gaps between those responsible for corporate and cyber governance and those responsible for the day-to-day defense against threats could have damaging impacts on organizations’ cybersecurity posture, leaving them more vulnerable to attack and breaches.

This data comes from a new survey, Defining the Gap: The Cybersecurity Governance Survey, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and commissioned by Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for boards, but many members lack the necessary knowledge to properly address the challenges and are even unaware when breaches occur. Further widening the gap, IT security professionals lack confidence in the board’s understanding of the cyber risks their organizations face, leading to a breakdown of trust and communication between the two groups.

The survey asked more than 650 board members and IT security professionals (mainly CIOs, CTOs and CISOs) for their perspectives regarding board member knowledge and involvement in cybersecurity governance.

Key findings include:

Lack of Critical Cybersecurity Knowledge at the Top

76% of boards review or approve security strategy and incident response plans, but 41% of board members admitted they lacked expertise in cybersecurity. An additional 26% said they had minimal or no knowledge of cybersecurity, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to understand whether the practices being discussed adequately address the unique risks faced by their organization. This renders their review of strategy and plans largely ineffective.

Limited Visibility into Breach Activity

59% of board members believe their organizations’ cybersecurity governance practices are very effective, while only 18% of IT security professionals believe the same. This large gap is likely the result of the board’s lack of information about threat activity. Although cybersecurity governance is on 65% of boards’ agendas, most members are remarkably unaware if their organizations had been breached in the recent past. Specifically, 54% of IT security professionals reported a breach involving the theft of high-value information such as intellectual property within the last two years, but only 23% of board members reported the same, with 18% unsure if their organizations were breached at all.

As the breadth and severity of breaches continues to escalate, cybersecurity has increasingly become a board level issue,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “The data shows that board members are very aware of cybersecurity, but there is still a lot of uncertainty and confusion. Many lack knowledge not only about security issues and risks, but even about what has transpired within their own companies, which is shocking to me. Without an understanding of the issues, it’s impossible to reasonably evaluate if strategies and response plans are effectively addressing the problem

Absence of Trust Between Boards and IT Security Professionals

The board’s lack of knowledge has created a further divide. Nearly 60% of IT security professionals believe that the board does not understand the cybersecurity risks of the organization, compared to 70% of board members who believe that they do understand the risks.

The gap in knowledge and limited visibility into breach activity means board members don’t have the information they need to make smart cybersecurity governance decisions, and IT security professionals don’t have the support, monetary or otherwise, to maintain a strong security posture,” said retired Brig. Gen. Jim Jaeger, chief cyber services strategist at Fidelis. “Board members don’t need to be cyber experts, but they should have a thorough knowledge of the risks their organization faces and be able to provide the support needed for the security teams to protect against those risks

Additional Key Findings Include:

  • Target breach was a watershed moment. 65% of board members and 67% of IT security professionals reported that the Target data breach had a significant impact on the board’s involvement in cybersecurity governance, while previous high profile breaches were reported to have nominal or no impact.
  • The SEC will drive drastically increased board involvement. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Guidelines requiring the disclosure of material security information had a significant impact in boards’ involvement, according to 46% of board members and 44% of IT security professionals. However, only 5% of board members and 2% of IT security professionals say they followed the SEC guidelines and disclosed a material security breach to shareholders. Moving forward, 72% of board members believe the SEC will make the guidelines a mandate, and 81% believe that this will increase the board’s involvement in cybersecurity governance.

Most Healthcare Organisations Have Experienced A Data Breach

The Fifth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data reveals that the majority of healthcare organizations represented in this study have experienced multiple security incidents and nearly all have faced a data breach. Despite the universal risk for data breach, the study found that many organizations lack the funds and resources to protect patient data and are unprepared to meet the changing cyber threat environment.

The 2015 study was expanded beyond healthcare organizations to include Business Associates.

Represented in this study are 90 covered entities (hereafter referred to as healthcare organizations) and 88 business associates (hereafter may be referred to as either business associates or BAs). A BA is a person or entity that performs services for a covered entity that involves the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI), according to the U.S.

Department of Health & Human Services. The inclusion of BAs provides a broader perspective of the healthcare industry as a whole and demonstrates the impact third parties have on the privacy and security of patient data. Respondents were surveyed about their privacy and security practices and experiences with data breaches, as well as their experiences with both electronic and paper security incidents.

Data breaches in healthcare continue to put patient data at risk and are costly. Based on the results of this study, they estimate that data breaches could be costing the industry $6 billion.

  • 90% of healthcare organizations represented in this study had a data breach
  • 40% had more than five data breaches over the past two years

According to the findings of this research, the average cost of a data breach for healthcare organizations is estimated to be more than $2.1 million. No healthcare organization, regardless of size, is immune from data breach. The average cost of a data breach to BAs represented in this research is more than $1 million. Despite this, half of all organizations have little or no confidence in their ability to detect all patient data loss or theft.

For the first time, criminal attacks are the number one cause of data breaches in healthcare. Criminal attacks on healthcare organizations are up 125% compared to five years ago. In fact, 45% of healthcare organizations say the root cause of the data breach was a criminal attack and 12 % say it was due to a malicious insider. In the case of BAs, 39% say a criminal attacker caused the breach and 10% say it was due to a malicious insider.

The percentage of criminal-based security incidents is even higher; for instance, web-borne malware attacks caused security incidents for 78% of healthcare organizations and 82% for BAs. Despite the changing threat environment, however, organizations are not changing their behaviour, only 40% of healthcare organizations and 35% of BAs are concerned about cyber attackers.

Security incidents are part of everyday business. 65% of healthcare organizations and 87% of BAs report their organizations experienced electronic information-based security incidents over the past two years.

  • 54% of healthcare organizations suffered paper-based security incidents
  • 41% of BAs had such an incident

However, many organizations do not have the budget and resources to protect both electronic and paper-based patient information. For instance, 56 % of healthcare organizations and 59% of BAs don’t believe their incident response process has adequate funding and resources. In addition, the majority of both types of organizations fail to perform a risk assessment for security incidents, despite the federal mandate to do so.

Even though medical identity theft nearly doubled in five years, from 1.4 million adult victims to over 2.3 million in 2014, the harms to individuals affected by a breach are not being addressed. Many medical identity theft victims report they have spent an average of $13,500 to restore their credit, reimburse their healthcare provider for fraudulent claims and correct inaccuracies in their health records.

Nearly two-thirds of both healthcare organizations and BAs do not offer any protection services for patients whose information has been breached.

Since 2010, this study has tracked privacy and security trends of patient data at healthcare organizations. Although the annual economic impact of a data breach has remained consistent over the past five years, the most-often reported root cause of a data breach is shifting from lost or stolen computing devices to criminal attacks. At the same time, employee negligence remains a top concern when it comes to exposing patient data. Even though organizations are slowly increasing their budgets and resources to protect healthcare data, they continue to believe not enough investment is being made to meet the changing threat landscape.

Key Findings

In this section, they provide a deeper analysis of the findings. They have organized this report according to the two following topics:

  • Privacy and security of patient data in healthcare organizations and business associates
  • Five-year trends in privacy and security practices in healthcare organizations

To respond quickly to data breaches, organizations need to invest more in technologies.

  • 58 % of healthcare organizations agree that policies and procedures are in place to effectively prevent or quickly detect unauthorized patient data access, loss or theft.
  • 49% agree they have sufficient technologies
  • 33% agree they have sufficient resources to prevent or quickly detect a data breach.
  • 53% of organizations have personnel with the necessary technical expertise to be able to identify and resolve data breaches involving the unauthorized access, loss or theft of patient data.

Background

  • Covered entities are defined in the HIPAA rules as (1) health plans, (2) health care clearinghouses, and (3) health care providers who electronically transmit any health information in connection with transactions for which HHS has adopted standards.
  • A security incident is defined as a violation of an organization’s security or privacy policies involving protected information such as social security numbers or confidential medical information. A data breach is an incident that meets specific legal definitions per applicable breach law(s). Data breaches require notification to the victims and may result in regulatory investigation, corrective actions, and fines.
  • This is based on multiplying $1,067,400 (50% of the average two year cost of a data breach experienced by the 90 healthcare organizations in this research) x 5,686 (the total number of registered US hospitals per the AHA).

Time to Identify Advanced Threats is 98 Days for Financial Services Firms and 197 Days for Retail

According to a Ponemon Institute Survey, sponsored by Arbor Networks, Financial Services and Retail organizations agree, advanced threats are the most serious security challenge facing their organizations. Despite the concern, both industries struggle to identify these attacks once they are inside their network.

Known as ‘dwell’ time, the time it takes to identify these attacks is

  • 98 days for Financial Services firms
  • 197 days for Retail

Despite these results, 58% of Financial Services and 71% of Retail organizations said they are not optimistic about their ability to improve these results in the coming year. This is alarming considering the number of attacks targeting their networks. Within Financial Services, 83% experienced more than 50 attacks per month, while 44% of Retail firms did.

The big takeaway from our research is that more investment is needed in both security operations staff and in security tools, which can help companies efficiently and accurately detect and respond to security incidents,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “The time to detect an advanced threat is far too long; attackers are getting in and staying long enough that the damage caused is often irreparable

It’s time to find a better balance between technology solutions, usability, workflow and the people who use them. As security vendors, we need to help our customers so they can adapt to this new cyber security reality that balances the threats with the people who fight them every day,” said Matthew Moynahan, president of Arbor Networks.

In the wake of high profile mega breaches, the Ponemon Institute surveyed Financial Services and Retail firms in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to better understand how they are dealing with attacks targeting their organizations. The survey asked how these organizations manage the explosion in advanced threats and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting their infrastructure; how effective (or not) their IT investments are; and how they are adapting incident response procedures and integrating threat intelligence for better visibility, insight and context.

Key Findings Among Financial Services Firms

Advanced Threats

  • 71% view technologies that provide intelligence about networks and traffic as most promising at stopping or minimizing advance threats during the seven phases of the Kill Chain
  • 45% have implemented incident response procedures
  • 43% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities

DDoS Attacks

  • 55% consider DDoS attacks as an advanced threat
  • 48% ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agree’ that they are effective in containing DDoS attacks
  • 45% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities to minimize or contain the impact of DDoS attacks

Budgets & Staffing. Budgets are allocated

  • 40% towards Technology
  • 37% to Staffing
  • 20% to Managed Services

Key Findings Among Retail Firms

Advanced Threats

  • 64% view technologies that provide intelligence about networks and traffic as most promising at stopping or minimizing advance threats during the seven phases of the Kill Chain
  • 34% have implemented incident response procedures
  • 17% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities

DDoS Attacks

  • 50% consider DDoS attacks as an advanced threat
  • 39% firms ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agree’ that they are effective in containing DDoS attacks
  • 13% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities to minimize or contain the impact of DDoS attacks

Budgets & Staffing. Budgets are allocated

  • 34% towards Technology
  • 27% to Staffing
  • 34% to Managed Services

Mobile Insecurity as an Infographic

IBM Mobile Insecurity

The costs of a cloud data breach revealed.

A summary of the Data Breach: The Cloud Multiplier Effect” survey from Ponemon sponsored by Netskope is below.

The survey reveals how the risk of a data breach in the cloud is multiplying. This can be attributed to the proliferation of mobile and other devices with access to cloud resources and more dependency on cloud services without the support of a strengthened cloud security posture and visibility of end user practices.

Ponemon surveyed 613 IT and IT security practitioners in the United States who are familiar with their company’s usage of cloud services.

  • 51% say on-premise IT is equally or less secure than cloud-based services
  • 66% of respondents say their organization’s use of cloud resources diminishes its ability to protect confidential or sensitive information
  • 64% believe it makes it difficult to secure business-critical applications

A lack of knowledge about the number of computing devices connected to the network and enterprise systems, software applications in the cloud and business critical applications used in the cloud workplace could be creating a cloud multiplier effect. Other uncertainties identified in this research include how much sensitive or confidential information is stored in the cloud.

For the first time, Ponemon attempt to quantify the potential scope of a data breach based on typical use of cloud services in the workplace or what can be described as the cloud multiplier effect. The report describes nine scenarios involving the loss or theft of more than 100,000 customer records and a material breach involving the loss or theft of high value1 IP or business confidential information.

When asked to rate their organizations’ effectiveness in securing data and applications used in the cloud.

  • 51% of respondents say it is low
  • 26% rate the effectiveness as high. Based on their lack of confidence
  • 51% say the likelihood of a data breach increases due to the cloud

Key takeaways from this research include the following:

Cloud security is an oxymoron for many companies.

  • 62% of respondents do not agree or are unsure that cloud services are thoroughly vetted before deployment
  • 69% believe there is a failure to be proactive in assessing information that is too sensitive to be stored in the cloud

Certain activities increase the cost of a breach when customer data is lost or stolen.

An increase in the backup and storage of sensitive and/or confidential customer information in the cloud can cause the most costly breaches. The second most costly occurs when one of the organization’s primary cloud services provider expands operations too quickly and experiences financial difficulties. The least costly is when the use of IaaS or cloud infrastructure services increases.

Certain activities increase the cost of a breach when high value IP and business confidential information is lost or stolen

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) results in the most costly data breaches involving high value IP. The second most costly is the backup and storage of sensitive or confidential information in the cloud increases. The least costly occurs when one of the organization’s primary cloud providers fails an audit failure that concerns the its inability to securely manage identity and authentication processes.

Why is the likelihood of a data breach in the cloud increasing?

Ideally, the right security procedures and technologies need to be in place to ensure sensitive and confidential information is protected when using cloud resources. The majority of companies are circumventing important practices such as vetting the security practices of cloud service providers and conducting audits and assessment of the information stored in the cloud.

The findings also reveal that 55% do not believe that the IT security leader is responsible for ensuring the organization’s safe use of cloud computing resources. In other words, respondents believe their organizations are relying on functions outside security to protect data in the cloud.

  • 62% of respondents do not agree or are unsure that cloud services are thoroughly vetted for security before deployment
  • 63% believe there is a lack of vigilance in conducting audits or assessments of cloud-based services
  • 69% of respondents believe there is a failure to be proactive in assessing information that is too sensitive to be stored in the cloud

There is a lack of confidence in the security practices of cloud providers

Respondents are critical of their cloud providers’ security practices. First, they do not believe they would be notified that the cloud provider lost their data in a timely manner. Second, they do not think the cloud provider has the necessary security technologies in place.

  • 72% of respondents do not agree their cloud service provider would notify them immediately if they had a data breach involving the loss or theft of their intellectual property or business confidential information
  • 71% of respondents fear their cloud service provider would not notify their organization immediately if they had a data breach involving the loss or theft of customer data.
  • 69% of respondents do not agree that their organization’s cloud service use enabling security technologies to protect and secure sensitive and confidential information
  • 64% say these cloud service providers are not in full compliance with privacy and data protection regulations and laws

Lack of visibility of what’s in the cloud puts confidential and sensitive information at risk

The number of computing devices in the typical workplace is making it more difficult than ever to determine the extent of cloud use. According to estimates provided by respondents, an average of 25,180 computing devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones are connected to their organization’s networks and/or enterprise systems.

Ponemon asked respondents to estimate the percentage of their organizations’ applications and information that is stored in the cloud. They were also asked to estimate the percentage of these applications and information that are not known, officially recognized or approved by the IT function (a.k.a. shadow IT).

30% of business information is stored in the cloud but of this, respondents estimate 35% is not visible to IT. This suggests that many organizations are at risk because they do not know what sensitive or confidential information such as IP is in the cloud.

What employees do in the cloud?

  • 44% of employees in organizations use cloud-based services or apps in the workplace
  • 53% use their personally owned mobile devices (BYOD) in the workplace
  • 50% of these employees use their own devices to connect to cloud-based services or apps.

Do certain changes in an organization’s use of cloud services affect the likelihood of a data breach?

  • 17% say the use of cloud-based services significantly increases
  • 34% say it increases the likelihood of a data breach. Ponemon define a material data breach as one that involves the loss or theft of more than 100,000 customer records or one that involves the theft of high value IP or business confidential information.

Calculating the economic impact of a data breach in the cloud.

Ponemon calculate what it might cost an organization to deal with a data breach in the cloud involving customer records. These calculations are based on Ponemon Institute’s recent cost of data breach research and the estimated likelihood or probability of a data breach based on cloud use. The calculation involves the following four steps:

  • First, drawing upon Ponemon Institute’s most recent cost of data breach study. Ponemon determine a cost of $201.18 dollars per compromised record.
  • Second, based on a data breach size of 100,000 or more compromised records in the survey and using the unit cost of $201.18 times 100,000 records. Ponemon calculate a total cost of $20,118,000
  • Third, from the survey results Ponemon extrapolate the average likelihood of a data breach involving 100,000 or more questions at approximately 11.8% over a two-year period.
  • Fourth, multiplying the estimated likelihood or probability of a data breach at 11.8% times the total cost of $20,118,000 Ponemon calculate a baseline expected value of $2.37 million as the average of what an organization would have to spend if it had a data breach involving customer records lost or stolen in the cloud.

Ponemon calculate what it might cost an organization to deal with a data breach in the cloud involving high value IP. Once again, these calculations are based on Ponemon Institute’s recent cost of data breach research and the estimated likelihood or probability of a data breach based on cloud use. The calculation involves the following steps:

  • First, drawing upon Ponemon Institute’s IT security benchmark database consisting of 1,281 companies compiled over a 10-year period, Ponemon estimate an expected value of $11,788,000.
  • Second, based upon the estimates provided by respondents Ponemon extrapolate the likelihood of a data breach involving the theft of high value information at 25.4%.
  • Third, multiplying the estimated likelihood or probability of a data breach at 25.4% times the total cost of $11.788 million Ponemon calculate a baseline expected value of $2.99 million as the average economic impact for organizations in our study.

What can cost an organization the most when it has a data breach involving the loss or theft of IP? The most costly scenarios involve the growth in the number of employees using their own cloud apps in the workplace for sharing sensitive or confidential information (a.k.a. BYOC) and an increase in the backup and storage of IP or business confidential information in the cloud.

The average costs to deal with these two types of data breaches are $5.38 million and $4.93 million, respectively.

2014 Global Report on the Cost of Cyber Crime – a HP Ponemon Study.

The results of the HP Enterprise Security sponsored Ponemon 2014 Global Report on the Cost of Cyber Crime are summarised below.

During the period they conducted interviews and analysed the findings, mega cybercrimes took place. Most notable was the Target cyber breach, which was reported to result in the theft of 40 million payment cards.

More recently, Chinese hackers launched a cyber attack against Canada’s National Research Council as well as commercial entities in Pennsylvania, including Westinghouse Electric Company, U.S. Steel and the United Steel Workers Union. Russian hackers recently stole the largest collection of Internet credentials ever: 1.2 billion user names and passwords, plus 500 million email addresses. While the companies represented in this research did not have cyber attacks as devastating as these were, they did experience incidents that were expensive to resolve and disruptive to their operations.

For purposes of this study, they refer to cyber attacks as criminal activity conducted via the Internet. These attacks can include stealing an organisation’s intellectual property, confiscating online bank accounts, creating and distributing viruses on other computers, posting confidential business information on the Internet and disrupting a country’s critical national infrastructure.

The study’s goal is to quantify the economic impact of cyber attacks and observe cost trends over time. They believe a better understanding of the cost of cybercrime will assist organisations in determining the appropriate amount of investment and resources needed to prevent or mitigate the consequences of an attack.

Approximately 10 months of effort is required to recruit companies, build an activity-based cost model to analyse the data, collect source information and complete the analysis.

For consistency purposes, the benchmark sample consists of only larger sized organizations (i.e. more than 1,000 enterprise seats). The study examines the total costs organizations incur when responding to cybercrime incidents. These include the costs to detect, recover, investigate and manage the incident response. Also covered are the costs that result in after-the-fact activities and efforts to contain additional costs from business disruption and the loss of customers. These costs do not include the plethora of expenditures and investments made to sustain an organization’s security posture or compliance with standards, policies and regulations.

Global at a glance

This year’s annual study was conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Japan, France and for the first time, the Russian Federation, with a total benchmark sample of 257 organizations. Country-specific results are presented in seven separate reports.

The estimated average cost of cybercrime for seven country samples involving 257 separate companies, with comparison to last year’s country averages. Cost figures are converted into U.S. dollars for comparative purposes.

There is significant variation in total cybercrime costs among participating companies in the benchmark samples. The US sample reports the highest total average cost at $12.7 million and the Russian sample reports the lowest total average cost at $3.3 million. It is also interesting to note that all six countries experienced a net increase in the cost of cybercrime cost over the past year, ranging from 2.7% for Japan to 22.7% for the United Kingdom. The percentage net change between FY 2014 and FY 2013 (excluding Russia) is 10.4%.

Summary of global findings

Following are the most salient findings for a sample of 257 organizations requiring 2,081 separate interviews to gather cybercrime cost results. In several places in this report, they compare the present findings to last year’s average of benchmark studies.

Cybercrimes continue to be on the rise for organizations. They found that the mean annualized cost for 257 benchmarked organizations is $7.6 million per year, with a range from $0.5 million to $61 million per company each year. Last year’s mean cost for 235 benchmarked organizations was $7.2 million. They observe a 10.4% net change from last year (excluding the Russian sample).

Cybercrime cost varies by organizational size. Results reveal a positive relationship between organizational size (as measured by enterprise seats) and annualized cost. However, based on enterprise seats, they determined that small organizations incur a significantly higher per capita cost than larger organizations ($1,601 versus $437).

All industries fall victim to cybercrime, but to different degrees. The average annualized cost of cybercrime appears to vary by industry segment, where organizations in energy & utilities and financial services experience substantially higher cybercrime costs than organizations in media, life sciences and healthcare.

The most costly cybercrimes are those caused by malicious insiders, denial of services and web-based attacks. These account for more than 55% of all cybercrime costs per organization on an annual basis. Mitigation of such attacks requires enabling technologies such as SIEM, intrusion prevention systems, applications security testing solutions and enterprise GRC solutions.

Cyber attacks can get costly if not resolved quickly. Results show a positive relationship between the time to contain an attack and organizational cost. Please note that resolution does not necessarily mean that the attack has been completely stopped. For example, some attacks remain dormant and undetected (i.e. modern day attacks).

The average time to contain a cyber attack was 31 days, with an average cost to participating organizations of $639,462 during this 31-day period. This represents a 23% increase from last year’s estimated average cost of $509,665, which was based upon a 27-day remediation period. Results show that malicious insider attacks can take more than 58 days on average to contain.

Business disruption represent the highest external cost, followed by the costs associated with information loss. On an annualized basis, business disruption accounts for 38% of total external costs, which include costs associated with business process failures and lost employee productivity.

Detection is the most costly internal activity followed by recovery. On an annualized basis, detection and recovery costs combined account for 53% of the total internal activity cost with cash outlays and direct labour representing the majority of these costs.

Activities relating to IT security in the network layer receive the highest budget allocation. In contrast, the host layer receives the lowest funding level.

Deployment of security intelligence systems makes a difference. The cost of cybercrime is moderated by the use of security intelligence systems (including SIEM). Findings suggest companies using security intelligence technologies were more efficient in detecting and containing cyber attacks. As a result, these companies enjoyed an average cost savings of $2.6 million when compared to companies not deploying security intelligence technologies.

A strong security posture moderates the cost of cyber attacks. They utilise Ponemon Institute’s proprietary metric called the Security Effectiveness Score (SES) Index to define an organization’s ability to achieve reasonable security objectives. The higher the SES, the more effective the organization is in achieving its security objectives. The average cost to mitigate a cyber attack for organizations with a high SES is substantially lower than organizations with a low SES score.

Companies deploying security intelligence systems experienced a substantially higher ROI (at 23%) than all other technology categories presented. Also significant are the estimated ROI results for companies that extensively deploy encryption technologies (20%) and advanced perimeter controls such as UTM, NGFW, IPS with reputation feeds (19%).

Deployment of enterprise security governance practices moderates the cost of cybercrime. Findings show companies that invest in adequate resources, appoint a high-level security leader, and employ certified or expert staff have cybercrime costs that are lower than companies that have not implemented these practices. This so-called “cost savings” for companies deploying good security governance practices is estimated at $1.3 million for employing expert personnel and $1.1 million for achieving certification against industry-leading standards.

Key findings

In this section, we provide an analysis of the key findings organized according to the following topics:

  • The average cost of cybercrime by organizational size and industry
  • The type of attack influences the cost of cyber crime
  • An analysis of the cost components of cyber crime 

The average cost of cybercrime by organizational size and industry

To determine the average cost of cybercrime, the 257 organizations in the study were asked to report what they spent to deal with cybercrimes experienced over four consecutive weeks. Once costs over the four-week period were compiled and validated, these figures were then grossed-up to determine the annualized cost.

The total annualized cost of cybercrime in 2014 ranges from a low of $.56 million to a high of $60.5 million. The median annualized cost of cybercrime in the benchmark sample is $6.0 million, an increase from last year’s median value of $5.5. The mean value is $7.6 million. This is an increase of $357,761 from last year’s mean of $7.2 million. Please note the percentage net change from last year’s mean for six countries is 10.4%.

As can be seen, 86 companies in our sample incurred total costs above the mean value of $7.6 million, thus indicating a skewed distribution. The highest cost estimate of $61 million was determined not to be an outlier based on additional analysis. A total of 171 organizations experienced an annualized total cost of cybercrime below the mean value.

As part of our analysis they calculated a precision interval for the average cost of $7.6 million. The purpose of this interval is to demonstrate that our cost estimates should be thought of as a range of possible outcomes rather than a single point or number.

The range of possible cost estimates widens at increasingly higher levels of confidence. Specifically, at a 90% level of confidence they expect the range of cost to be between $7.2 million to $7.9 million.

Certain attacks are more costly based on organizational size. The study focuses on 9 different attack vectors as the source of the cybercrime. They compare smaller and larger-sized organizations based on the sample median of 8,509 seats. Smaller organizations (below the median) experience a higher proportion of cybercrime costs relating to web-based attacks, viruses, worms, Trojans and other malware.

In contrast, larger organizations (above the median) experience a higher proportion of costs relating to denial of services, malicious code and malicious insiders. In the context of this research, malicious insiders include employees, temporary employees, contractors and, possibly other business partners. They also distinguish viruses from malware. Viruses reside on the endpoint and as yet have not infiltrated the network but malware has infiltrated the network. Malicious code attacks the application layer and includes SQL attack.

The cost of cybercrime impacts all industries. The average annualized cost of cybercrime appears to vary by industry segment. In this year’s study they compare cost averages for 17 different industry sectors. The cost of cybercrime for companies in energy & utilities, financial services and technology experienced the highest annualized cost. In contrast, companies in media, life sciences and healthcare incurred much lower cost on average.

The type of cyber-attack influences the cost of cyber crime

In our studies they look at 9 different attack vectors as the source of the cybercrime. This year, the benchmark sample of 257 organizations experienced 429 discernible cyber-attacks or 1.6 attacks per company each week. The list below shows the number of successful attacks for the past three years, which has steadily increased.

  • FY 2014, 429 attacks in 257 organizations or 1.7 successful attacks per company each week
  • FY 2013, 343 attacks in 234 organizations or 1.4 successful attacks per company each week
  • FY 2012, 262 attacks in 199 organizations or 1.3 successful attacks per company each week

Virtually all organizations had attacks relating to viruses, worms and/or Trojans and malware over the four-week benchmark period. Malware attacks and malicious code attacks are inextricably linked. They classified malware attacks that successfully infiltrated the organizations’ networks or enterprise systems as a malicious code attack.

59% experienced botnets and 58% experienced web-based attacks. Denial of service attacks and stolen devices were experienced by 49% of companies. Only 35% of companies say a malicious insider was the source of the cybercrime.

Costs vary considerably by the type of cyber-attack. The benchmark results for seven countries, showing the proportion of annualized cost of cybercrime allocated to 9 attack types compiled from all benchmarked organizations.

With respect to web-based attacks, the percentage annualized costs seem to be fairly consistent ranging from a low of 13% for Australia to 19% of Japan and Russia. For denial of services, they see a low of 8% for France and a high of 25% for the United Kingdom. In the case of malicious insiders, they see a low of 6% for Germany and a high of 21% for Japan. Finally, the cost of malware has a low of 6% for the US and Japan and a high of 17% of the Russian Federation.

The cost of cybercrime is also influenced by the frequency of attacks. The most to least expensive cyber-attacks when analysed by the frequency of incidents. The most expensive attacks are malicious insiders, denial of service, web-based attacks and malicious code. Malware attacks are most frequently encountered and, hence, represent a relatively low unit cost.

Time to resolve or contain cybercrimes increases the cost. The mean number of days to resolve cyber attacks is 31 with an average cost of $20,758 per day, or a total cost of $639,462 over the 31 day remediation period. This represents a 23% increase from last year’s cost estimate of $509,665 over a 27-day remediation period. Please note that resolution does not necessarily mean that the attack has been completely stopped. For example, some attacks remain dormant and undetected (i.e., modern day attacks).

Some attacks take longer to resolve and as a result are more costly. The time it takes to resolve the consequences of the attack increases the cost of a cybercrime. The analysis reveals that the average days to resolve cyber attacks for 9 different attack types studied in this report. It is clear from this chart that it takes the most amount of time, on average, to resolve attacks from malicious insiders, malicious code and web-based attackers (hackers). Malware, botnets and viruses on average are resolved relatively quickly (i.e., in a few days or less).

An analysis of the cost components of cyber crime

Information theft remains the most expensive consequence of a cybercrime. In this research they look at four primary consequences of a cyber attack: business disruptions, the loss of information, loss of revenue and damage to equipment. Among the organizations represented in this study, business disruption represents the largest cost component (38%). The cost of business disruption includes diminished employee productivity and business process failures than happen after a cyber attack. Information and revenue loss follow at 35% and 22%, respectively.

Companies spend the most on detection and recovery. Cybercrime detection and recovery activities account for 53% of total internal activity cost. This is followed by containment and investigation cost (both at 15%. Detection and recovery cost elements highlight a significant cost-reduction opportunity for organizations that are able to systematically manage recovery and to deploy enabling security technologies to help facilitate the detection process.

The largest portion of the security budget is allocated to the network layer. The network layer receives the highest allocation at 33% of total dedicated IT security funding. At only 7%, the host layer receives the lowest funding level.

The organization’s security posture influences the cost of cybercrime. We measure the security posture of participating organizations as part of the benchmarking process. The annualized cost and regression of companies in descending order of their security effectiveness as measured by the SES.

The figure shows an upward sloping regression, suggesting that companies with a stronger security posture experience a lower overall cost. The SES range of possible scores is +2 (most favourable) to -2 (least favourable). Compiled results for the present benchmark sample vary from a high of +1.90 to a low of -1.7 with an SES mean value at .31.

Organizations deploying security intelligence technologies realize a lower annualized cost of cybercrime. The average amount of money companies can save with SEIM in the 6 activities conducted to resolve the cyber attack. The figure compares companies deploying and not deploying security intelligence systems. In total, 124 companies (48%) deploy security intelligence tools such as SIEM, IPS with reputation feeds, network intelligence systems, big data analytics and others.

With two exceptions (investigative and incident management costs), companies using security intelligence systems experience lower activity costs than companies that do not use these technologies. The largest cost differences in millions pertain to detection ($2.83 vs. $1.63), recovery ($1.77 vs. $1.13) and containment ($1.59 vs. $.94) activities, respectively.

Security intelligence systems have the biggest return on investment. The estimated return on investment (ROI) realized by companies for each one of the 7 categories of enabling security technologies indicated above. At 23%, companies deploying security intelligence systems, on average, experience a substantially higher ROI than all other technology categories in this study.

Also significant are the estimated ROI results for companies that extensively deploy encryption technologies (20%) and advanced perimeter controls such as UTM, NGFW, IPS with reputation feeds and more (19%). The estimated average ROI for all 7 categories of enabling security technologies is 15%.

Certain governance activities can reduce the cost of cybercrime. The top three governance activities are: certification against industry-leading standards, appointment of a high-level security leader (CISO) and employment of expert security personnel.

Find the full study here.

Is the concern for data protection making half of all employees less productive?

In 2010, the Visual Data Breach Risk Assessment Study revealed that two out of three working professionals are displaying sensitive information on their mobile devices, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and other non-regulated but sensitive company information, when outside the office. This points to the insight that in certain circumstances people value productivity over data protection when working. However, in circumstances when an individual values data protection, is the company potentially losing productivity due to visual privacy concerns?

The 2013 Visual Privacy Productivity Study, conducted by The Ponemon Institute, revealed that companies can lose more than data as remote working increases, with 50% of employees answering that they are less productive when their visual privacy is at risk in public places.

The Visual Privacy Productivity Study showed that employees are forced to either trade-off working and risking private data being overlooked by nosy neighbours, or stop working altogether. Based on these findings, lost productivity due to employee visual privacy concerns is potentially costing a US business organisation with more than 7,500 people over $1 million dollars per year.

While many companies realise that snooping and visual privacy presents a potential data security issue, there has been little research regarding how the lack of visual privacy impacts a business’ bottom line,” says Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of The Ponemon Institute. “As workers become more mobile and continue to work in settings where there is the potential for visual privacy concerns, companies need to find solutions to address productivity as it relates to computer visual privacy in addition to dealing with the fundamental security issues of mobile devices

The study of 274 US individuals from 5 organisations in a variety of sectors. More than half stated that their visual privacy had been violated whilst travelling or in other public places such as cafes, airports and hotels, and two out of three admitted to exposing sensitive data on mobile devices whilst outside the workplace. When asked how their organisation handles the protection of sensitive information in a public location, 47% did not think any importance was put on this and that no adequate policies were in place.

Other interesting findings include:

  • Employees are 50% less productive when their visual privacy is at risk and lost productivity costs an organisation approximately £350 per employee per year
  • Visual privacy impacts on transparency as users that value privacy are less likely to enter information on an unprotected screen.
  • Women value privacy more (61%) than men (50%), and women’s productivity is more positively impacted than men’s when the screen is protected with a privacy filter.
  • Older employees value privacy more, with 61% of over 35s compared to 51% of under 35s placing importance on privacy.

Productivity loss is a major discovery in this survey and will hopefully encourage companies across all sectors to consider employee working practices and behaviours,” said Rob Green, Marketing Executive at 3M’s Speciality Display & Projection Division

According to the survey the devices used for work-related activities were:-

  • Smartphone 65%
  • Laptop computer 65%
  • Desktop computer 45%
  • Tablet computer 29%
  • Netbook computer 14%
  • Other 2%

The 2010 Visual Data Breach Risk Assessment survey revealed that visual privacy on computer screens was an under-addressed area in corporate policy. Seventy percent of working professionals said their organization had no explicit policy on working in public places and 79% said that their company had no policy on the use of computer privacy filters.

The 2012 Visual Privacy Productivity Study reinforced these findings with

  • 47% of those surveyed saying they were unsure or did not think their company placed an importance on protecting sensitive information displayed on a screen in public places
  • 58% were unsure or did not think other employees were careful about protecting sensitive information on computer or mobile device screens in public places. Corporate policy and education on that policy continues to be areas for improvement as it relates to visual privacy.

The full study is very informative about how the sponsor’s (3M) privacy filters can improve productivity and reduce risk and can be read here.

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