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Corporate Data: A Protected Asset or a Ticking Time Bomb?

Corporate Data: A Protected Asset or a Ticking Time Bomb? is a Ponemon Institute study sponsored by Varonis, surveying a total of 2,276 employees in US and European organizations (United Kingdom, Germany and France), including 1,110 individuals (hereafter referred to as end users) who work in such areas as sales, finance and accounting, corporate IT, and business operations, and 1,166 individuals who work in IT and IT security (hereafter referred to as IT practitioners).

In the context of this research, both IT practitioners and end users are witnessing a lack of control over their organizations’ data and access to it, and the two groups generally concur that their organizations would overlook security risks before they would sacrifice productivity. Employees are often left with needlessly excessive data access privileges and loose data-sharing policies.

Compounding the risk, organizations are unable to determine what happened to data when it goes missing, indicating a lack of monitoring and further absence of controls.

This presents a growing risk for organizations due to both accidental and conscious exposure of sensitive or critical data. Efforts to address these risks will need to overcome employee perceptions, as they believe data protection is not considered a high priority by senior leadership.

Following are research findings that illustrate the growing risks and challenges to productivity that data growth and a lack of internal controls currently present for organizations of all sizes:

End users believe they have access to sensitive data they should not be able to see, and more than half say that access is frequent or very frequent. 71% of end users say that they have access to company data they should not be able to see. 54% characterize that access as frequent or very frequent.

End users believe data protection oversight and controls are weak. 47% of end users say the organization does not strictly enforce its policies against the misuse or unauthorized access to company data and 45% say they are more careful with company data than their supervisors or managers. Furthermore, only 22% of employees say their organization is able to tell them what happened to lost data, files or emails.

IT agrees. Most IT practitioners surveyed state that their companies do not enforce a strict least-privilege (or need-to-know) data policy. Four in five IT practitioners (80%) say their organizations don’t enforce a strict least-privilege data model. 34% say they don’t enforce any least-privilege data model.

End users and IT agree that data growth is hindering productivity more every day. 73% of end users believe the growth of emails, presentations, multimedia files and other types of company data has very significantly or significantly affected their ability to find and access data.

Uncertainty about whether senior executives view data protection as a priority affects. compliance with security policies. Only 22% of end users believe their organizations overall place a very high priority on data protection. About half (51%) of IT practitioners believe their CEO and other C-level executives consider data protection a high priority.

IT practitioners say end users are likely to put critical data at risk. 73% of IT practitioners say their department takes data protection very seriously. However, only 47% believe employees in their company take the necessary steps to make sure confidential data is secure. Thus, IT departments know end user security risks exist but think they are limited in what they can do about it.

End users think it is OK to transfer confidential documents to potentially unsecure devices. 66% of end users say there are times when it is acceptable to transfer work documents to their personal computer, table, smart phone and even the public cloud. Only 13% of IT practitioners agree.

End users and IT practitioners do not think their organization would accept diminished productivity to prevent the risk to critical data. 55% of end users say their company’s efforts to tighten security have a major impact on their productivity. Only 27% of IT practitioners say their organization would accept diminished productivity to prevent the loss or theft of critical data.

End users and IT agree that employees are unknowingly the most likely to be responsible for the leakage of company data. 64% of end users and 59% of IT practitioners believe that insiders are unknowingly the most likely to be the cause of leakage of company data. And only 46% of IT practitioners say employees in their organizations take appropriate steps to protect the company data they access.

What IT Users and Business Users Think about Bring Your Own Identity (BYOID)

Ponemon Institute has released its CA Technologies sponsored study “The Identity Imperative for the Open Enterprise: What IT Users and Business Users Think about Bring Your Own Identity (BYOID)

They surveyed 1,589 IT and IT security practitioners and 1,526 business users with more than 1,000 employees in United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy and the United Kingdom to understand current trends in Bring your Own Identity or BYOID, which is defined as the use of trusted digital or social networking identities.

  • 74% of the IT users surveyed report to the CIO
  • 15% report to the CISO
  • 55% of the business users in this research report to the lines of business leader
  • 10% report to the marketing officer 

The majority of respondents in both groups have high levels of interest in BYOID, but IT users and business user groups have different views about the perceived potential value of BYOID. 

  • IT users view BYOID primarily for fraud reduction, risk mitigation and cost reduction
  • Business end users are more interested in how BYOID can streamline customer’s experience and assist in targeted marketing campaigns.

Some of these differences can be expected because of the different job responsibilities of each group. These differences do not necessarily portend conflict, but rather show the need for collaboration between IT and the business functions to yield maximum benefits for any organisation deploying a BYOID system. By developing a cross-functional BYOID strategy around several well-defined use cases, organisations can differentiate themselves from competitors and further grow their business.

Key finding of the study are:

The Application Economy Drives BYOID Interest

In today’s application economy, organisations need to securely deliver new apps to grow their business quickly. This can increase IT risks, which puts a premium on an organisation’s ability to simplify the user experience without sacrificing security. Using an existing digital or social identity issued by a trusted third party to access applications can help organisations meet the need for simplicity, security and a positive customer experience.

  • 67% of IT users say the primary value of BYOID is from strengthening the authentication process
  • 54% from reducing impersonation risk
  • 79% of Business users believe the BYOID value comes from delivering a better customer experience 76% believe it is from increasing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns

While IT sees value primarily in risk mitigation/cost reduction, business users see the value of BYOID in improving the consumer experience to increase customer loyalty and generating new revenue streams. This underscores the need for IT and business collaboration to address the challenge that today’s organisations face: how to secure the business while simultaneously empowering

Mobile and Web Users Drive BYOID

Today’s IT organisations must deliver secure access to a highly distributed and growing user population. These users expect to access information anywhere, anytime from multiple devices. This is changing how user identities should be managed and is affecting the demand for BYOID.

When IT practitioners and business users were polled on their level of interest in accepting identities for different user populations such as job prospects, employees, contractors, retirees, website customers or mobile customers, mobile and web customers received the most interest, far exceeding that of the other populations.

  • 50% of IT respondents and 79% of business respondents have very high or high interest in BYOID for website user populations
  • 48% of IT respondents and 82% of business respondents have very high or high interest in BYOID for mobile user populations

BYOID Requires Security Enhancements to Drive More Adoption

While the survey results indicate interest in BYOID from both IT users and business users, both groups identified features that could contribute to broader BYOID adoption.

When asked which features would most likely increase BYOID adoption within their organisation;

  • 73% of IT users’ top features are identity validation processes
  • 66% have multi-factor authentication as the top feature
  • 71% of Business users say both identity validation processes and simplified user registration are the most popular features for increasing adoption.

The study also indicates a high level of interest for some level of accreditation of the identity providers

  • 59% of IT saying it is essential or very important
  • 21% saying it is important
  • 27% of business respondents say accreditation is essential or very important with 48% believe it’s important

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Why is there a Cloud Multiplier effect on the risk of a Data Breach?

Netskope-data-breach

65% have experienced an SQL injection attack

The second DB Networks sponsored Ponemon Institute report on the SQL injection threat has been released. 

The report explores what IT security professionals think about the likely attack chain of recent data breaches involving major retailers such as Target, Michaels and Neiman Marcus. The first report focused on how organizations respond to the SQL injection threat and their awareness about different approaches to managing this risk. 

The study surveyed 595 individuals who work in IT and IT security. The majority of respondents are familiar with core IDS technologies that detect rogue SQL statements on the network that connect the web application to the database. 

69% of respondents say their organization must comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). As such, a majority of the respondents are very familiar with and required to comply with the security requirements for retailers who accept payment cards. 

SQL injections have been defined as being used to attack data driven applications, in which malicious SQL statements are inserted into an entry field for execution (e.g. to dump the database contents to the attacker). SQL injections exploit security vulnerabilities in an application’s software. SQL injection is most commonly known as an attack vector through public facing websites but can be used to attack SQL databases in a variety of ways.

Background on retail breaches 

Details of the recent retailer network intrusion and data breach haven’t been readily forth coming from either the retailers who were breached or the U.S. Secret Service in charge of the breach investigations. As a result, security professionals are left to piece together the attack chain details based on the nascent amount of information that has been shared thus far. 

Target, for example, has revealed the credentials from an HVAC contractor were compromised. Those compromised credentials they claim initiated the attack chain that ultimately resulted in two major breaches. While certainly an interesting factoid, that information actually offers little insight into the events that ultimately resulted in the breach of 40 million credit cards and another 70 million database records containing personally identifiable information (PII). 

The HVAC vendor credentials only provided access to Target’s vendor billing and invoicing system. It’s a rather long leap from those systems into Target’s POS systems. How that feat was accomplished hasn’t been made public. Further, a report by BusinessWeek revealed that Target’s IT security systems were able to identify the hacker’s suspicious activity multiple times during the attack. But unfortunately those alerts were not agreed upon by Target’s IT security staff. 

Some of the key takeaways from this study include:

  • 50% of respondents believe cyber syndicates are to blame for the large retail data breaches. Only 16% believe an individual perpetrated the attack.
  • Many respondents believe notification of victims is better later than sooner. 36% of respondents would prefer to wait to notify victims until a thorough investigation was conducted.
  • SQL injection threat was one of the components of these retail breaches. 53% of respondents say SQL injections were used to steal sensitive and confidential information.
  • 65% of respondents say continuous monitoring of the database network followed by advanced database activity monitoring are the best approaches to avoiding a mega data breach
  • 33% of respondents say they either scan continuously or daily for active databases. However, 25% scan irregularly and 22% do not scan at all
  • SQL injection was considered by respondents to be one of the components of these attacks. 57% (36% + 21%) of respondents believe the likelihood that the attacks against the U.S. retailers involved SQL injection was 51% or greater
  • 65% of organizations represented in this study experienced a SQL injection attack that successfully evaded their perimeter defences in the last 12 months.
  • 49% say the SQL injection threat facing their company is very significant. On average, respondents believe 42% of all data breaches are due, at least in part, to SQL injections.
  • Many organizations are not familiar with the techniques used by cyber criminals.
  • 46% are familiar with the term Web Application Firewalls (WAF) bypass
  • 39% of respondents are very familiar or familiar with the techniques cybercriminal use to get around WAF perimeter security devices
  • BYOD makes understanding the root causes of an SQL injection threat more difficult. 56% of respondents say determining the root causes of SQL injection is becoming more difficult because of employees’ use of personally owned mobile devices (BYOD) in the workplace. Another challenge, according to 41% of respondents, is increasing stealth and/or sophistication of cyber attackers
  • Expertise and the right technologies are critical to preventing the SQL injection threat. While respondents see the SQL threat as serious, only 31% say their organization’s IT security personnel possess the skills, knowledge and expertise to quickly detect SQL injection threats and 34% agree that they have the technologies or tools to quickly detect a SQL injection threat 

Find the report here

The risk to Industrial Control Systems and SCADA is believed to have substantially increased

In a Unisys sponsored Ponemon survey of 599 Global IT and IT security executives across 13 countries, IT practitioners whose job involves securing or overseeing the security of their organisation’s information systems or IT infrastructure were permitted to complete the survey. They are also familiar with security standards such as NERC, CIP, NIST, ISO, PCI DSS, Sarbanes Oxley and other regulations on the protection of information assets and the critical infrastructure.

Key findings of this research

Most companies have not fully deployed their IT security programs

  • 17% of companies represented in this research self-report that most of their IT security program activities are deployed
  • 50% of respondents say their IT security activities have not as yet been defined or deployed (7%)
  • 43% say they have defined activities but they are only partially deployed
  • 28% of respondents agree that security is one of the top five strategic priorities across the enterprise

The risk to industrial control systems and SCADA is believed to have substantially increased

  • 57% of respondents agree that cyber threats are putting industrial control systems and SCADA at greater risk
  • 11% say the risk has decreased due to heightened regulations and industry-based security standards

Security compromises are occurring in most companies

It is difficult to understand why security is not a top a priority because 67% of respondents say their companies have had at least one security compromise that that led to the loss of confidential information or disruption to operations over the last 12 months. 24% of respondents say these compromises were due to an insider attack or negligent privileged IT users

Upgrading existing legacy systems may result in sacrificing mission-critical security

36% of respondents are not confident and 18% are unsure that their organisation would be able to upgrade legacy systems to the next improved security state in cost-effective ways without sacrificing mission-critical security.

Many organisations are not getting actionable real-time threat alerts about security exploits

  • 34% of respondents say their companies do not get real-time alerts, threat analysis and threat prioritisation intelligence that can be used to stop or minimise the impact of a cyber-attack
  • 22% of those that does receive such intelligence say they are not effective
  • 15% of respondents say threat intelligence is very effective and actionable

Find the full report here.

 

110 million Americans hacked in the last 12 months

In a CNNMoney commissioned study Ponemon Institute researchers found:;-

  • 110 million Americans — roughly half of the nation’s adults — in the last 12 months alone.
  • 432 million accounts were hacked accounts

It’s becoming more acute,” said Ponemon Institute head Larry Ponemon. “If you’re not a data breach victim, you’re not paying attention

The CNNMoney article points to recent examples of large hack attacks:-

  • 70 million Target customers’ personal information, plus 40 million credit and debit cards
  • 33 million Adobe user credentials, plus 3.2 million stolen credit and debit cards
  • 4.6 million Snapchat users’ account data 3 million payment cards used at Michaels
  • 1.1 million cards from Neiman Marcus “A significant number” of AOL’s
  • 120 million account holders
  • Potentially all of eBay’s 148 million customers’ credentials 

Full article here.

The Aftermath of a Mega Data Breach

A Ponemon Study sponsored by Experian® explores consumers’ sentiments about data breaches. The goal was to learn the affect data breaches had on consumers’ privacy and data security concerns. A similar study was conducted in 2012 and reveals some interesting trends in consumers’ perceptions.

The study asked consumers who were victims of a data breach questions about their experience. It may not come as a surprise that individuals who have had their personal information lost or stolen increased 100% since the 2012 study when only 25% of individuals surveyed were victims of a data breach.

For purposes of the research, they define a data breach as

the loss or theft of information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact or locate you. This includes, but is not limited to, such information as Social Security number, IP address, driver’s license number, credit card numbers and medical records

797 individuals were surveyed and approximately 400 of these respondents say they were the victims of a data breach. By far, the primary consequence of a data breach is suffering from stress (76% of respondents) followed by having to spend time resolving problems caused by the data breach (39% of respondents).

The most significant findings of the research:-

What companies should do following a data breach

  • 63% of consumers continue to believe that organizations should be obligated to provide identity theft protection
  • 58% believe credit monitoring services should be offered
  • 67% believe compensation such as cash, products or services should be offered

–       These findings are similar to the findings in the 2012 study.

Credit card companies and retail stores sent the most notifications

  • 62% of respondents say they received two data breach notifications involving separate incidents. These notifications can be in the form of a letter, telephone call, email or public notice.

Becoming a victim of a data breach increases fears about becoming an identity theft victim.

  • Prior to having their personal information lost or stolen, 24% say they were extremely or very concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft.
  • Following the data breach, this concern increased significantly to 45%.
  • 48% of respondents say their identity is at risk for years or forever.

How important is media coverage of data breaches?

  • The majority of respondents believe it is important for the media to report details about data breaches. Mainly because it requires companies to be more responsive to victims followed by the creation of greater awareness about how the data breach could affect individuals and alerts potential victims to take action to protect their personal information from identity theft.

Other findings:-

  • 25% of data breach notifications offered identity theft protection such as credit monitoring or fraud resolution services. This is a slight decrease from 2012 when 29% of respondents received such an offer
  • 67% of those receiving a notification wanted the organisation to “Explain the risks or harms that I will experience”
  • 32% said “I ignored the notification(s) and did nothing”
  • 78% were most worried about their Social Security number followed by Password/PIN at 71% and Credit card or bank payment information with 65%
  • 81% of respondents who were victims of a data breach did not have any out of pocket costs. If they did, it averaged about $38
  • 34% say they were able to resolve the consequences of the breach in one day
  • 55% say they have done nothing to protect themselves and their family from identity theft

The full report can be found here.

Cybercriminals see a 9% year on year improved yield on stolen records from $136 to $145

IBM and Ponemon have released their ninth annual Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Study. According to the research, the average total cost of a data breach for the companies participating in this research increased 15% to $3.5 million. The average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased more than 9% from $136 in 2013 to $145 in this year’s study. 

For the first time, the study looks at the likelihood of a company having one or more data breach occurrences in the next 24 months. Based on the experiences of companies participating in the research, Ponemon believe they can predict the probability of a data breach based on two factors:

  1. How many records were lost or stolen
  2. The company’s industry

According to the findings, organizations in India and Brazil are more likely to have a data breach involving a minimum of 10,000 records. In contrast, organizations in Germany and Australia are least likely to have a breach. In all cases, it is more likely a company will have a breach involving 10,000 or fewer records than a mega breach involving more than 100,000 records.

In this year’s study, 314 companies representing the following 11 countries participated:-

  1. Australia
  2. Brazil
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. India
  6. Italy
  7. Japan
  8. Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were combined as the Arabian region)
  9. United Arab Emirates
  10. United Kingdom
  11. United States

All participating organizations experienced a data breach ranging from a low of approximately 2,415 to slightly more than 100,000 compromised records. Ponemon define a compromised record as one that identifies the individual whose information has been lost or stolen in a data breach.

As the findings reveal, the consolidated average per capita cost of data breach (compiled for eleven countries and converted to US dollars) differs widely among the countries. Many of these cost differences can be attributed to the types of attacks and threats organizations face as well as the data protection regulations and laws in their respective countries.

In this year’s global study, the average consolidated data breach increased from $136 to $145

However, German and US organizations on average experienced much higher costs at $195 and $201, respectively.

Ponemon Institute conducted its first Cost of Data Breach study in the United States nine years ago. Since then, they have expanded the study to include the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, India, Italy, Japan, Brazil and, for the first time this year, United Emirates and Saudi Arabia. To date, 1,279 business and government (public sector) organizations have participated in the benchmarking process since the inception of this research series.

This year’s study examines the costs incurred by 314 companies in 16 industry sectors after those companies experienced the loss or theft of protected personal data. It is important to note the costs presented in this research are not hypothetical but are from actual data loss incidents. They are based upon cost estimates provided by the 1,690 individuals interviewed over a ten-month period in the companies that are represented in this research.

The following are the key findings, measured in US dollars:

  • The most and least expensive breaches. German and US companies had the most costly data breaches ($201 and $195 per record, respectively). These countries also experienced the highest total cost (US at $5.85 million and Germany at $4.74 million). The least costly breaches occurred in Brazil and India ($70 and $51, respectively). In Brazil, the average total cost for a company was $1.61 million and in India it was $1.37 million. 
  • Size of data breaches. On average, U.S. and Arabian region companies had data breaches that resulted in the greatest number of exposed or compromised records (29,087 and 28,690 records, respectively). On average, Japanese and Italian companies had the smallest number of breached records (18,615 and 19,034 records, respectively). 
  • Causes of data breaches differ among countries. Companies in the Arabian region and in Germany were most likely to experience a malicious or criminal attack, followed by France and Japan. Companies in India were the most likely to experience a data breach caused by a system glitch or business process failure and UK companies were more likely to have a breach caused by human error. 
  • The most costly data breaches were malicious and criminal attacks. Consolidated findings show that malicious or criminal attacks are the most costly data breaches incidents in all ten countries. U.S. and German companies experience the most expensive data breach incidents at $246 and $215 per compromised records, respectively. Brazil and India had the least costly data breach caused by malicious or criminal attackers at $77 and $60 per capita, respectively. 
  • Factors that decreased and increased the cost of a data breach. Having a strong security posture, incident response plan and CISO appointment reduced the cost per record by $14.14, $12.77 and $6.59, respectively. Factors that increased the cost were those that were caused by lost or stolen devices (+ $16.10), third party involvement in the breach (+ $14.80), quick notification (+ $10.45) and engagement of consultants (+ $2.10). 
  • Business continuity management reduced the cost of a breach. For the first time, the research reveals that having business continuity management involved in the remediation of the breach can reduce the cost by an average of $8.98 per compromised record. 
  • Countries that lost the most customers following a data breach. France and Italy had the highest rate of abnormal customer turnover or churn following a data breach. In contrast, the Arabian region and India had the lowest rate of abnormal churn. 
  • Countries that spent the most and least on detection and escalation. On average, German and French organizations spent the most on detection and escalation activities such as investigating and assessing the data breach ($1.3 million and $1.1 million, respectively). Organizations in India and the Arabian region spent the least on detection and escalation at $320,763 and $353,735 respectively. 
  • Countries that spent the most and least on notification. Typical notification costs include IT activities associated with the creation of contact databases, determination of all regulatory requirements, engagement of outside experts and other efforts to make sure victims are alerted to the fact that their personal information has been compromised. U.S. and German organizations on average spent the most ($509,237 and $317,635 respectively). Brazil and India spent the least amount on notification ($53,772 and $19,841, respectively). 
  • Will your organization have a data breach? As part of understanding the potential risk to an organization’s sensitive and confidential information, we thought it would be helpful to understand the probability that an organization will have a data breach. To do this, we extrapolate a subjective probability distribution for the entire sample of participating companies on the likelihood of a material data breach happening over the next two years. The results show that a probability of a material data breach involving a minimum of 10,000 records is more than 22%. In addition to overall aggregated results, we find that the probability or likelihood of data breach varies considerably by country. India and Brazil have the highest estimated probability of occurrence.

 The full report can be obtained here.

Tracking how fast a security incident is discovered and contained is the most important metric but not often used

In a Firemon sponsored Ponemon study respondents were asked to rate the importance of specific metrics in communicating the state of security risk to senior executives and IT management.

The following metrics are considered to be most important in achieving more effective communications. 

  • Metrics on compliance with security standards and frameworks. Metrics most often used are length of time to implement security patches and the reduction in audit findings, especially repeat findings.
  • Metrics on the management of security threat. Metrics most often used are reduction in the number of known vulnerabilities and percentage of endpoints free of malware and viruses. 
  • Metrics on the minimization of disruption to business & IT operations. Metrics most often used is reduction in unplanned system downtime. 
  • Metrics on staff and employee competence. Metrics most often used is number of end users receiving appropriate training. 
  • Metrics on efficient management of resources and spending. Metrics most often used is reduction in the cost of security management activities. 
  • Time-dependent metrics on the discovery and containment of compromises and breaches. Metrics most often used are mean time to fix, to identify and know root causes. 
  • Metrics on the minimization of third-party security risks. Metrics most often used is the number of third parties that attest to meeting compliance and security standards.

 The full study can be found here.

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