Authored by: Mark Thomas, VP, Cybersecurity at Dimension Data
Innovation and positive change often transpire during times of great adversity, and there’s no better example right now than the daunting threat we’re facing from the sinister world of cybercrime. In every corner of the world, and across every vertical and industry – we’re locked in an eternal struggle with a new breed of cybercriminal.
Cybercrime currently represents one of the top 10 biggest threats to our globe during 2019 – and it’s showing no sign of ebbing away. The approaches of hackers are increasing in sophistication, the volume of their attacks is intensifying, and successful breaches are causing more damage than ever before.
But as threats and attack types evolve, so too do our methods of defending against them, sparking levels of innovation previously unseen. And despite the fact that 2018 represented a record year for the number of new business vulnerabilities discovered (a 12.5% upsurge from 2017), the most commonly attacked industries across the globe are also those best-equipped to guard against the latest criminal advances.
But what lessons can we learn from their success? Here are three ways the cybersecurity landscape is going to change over the coming years:
1. Increased cybersecurity benchmarks will improve standards
According to Dimension Data’s Executive Guide to NTT Security’s 2019 Global Threat Intelligence Report, the average global cybersecurity maturity rating languishes at 1.45 out of 5 – a score determined by an organisation’s holistic approach to cybersecurity from a strategy, process, metrics and tools perspective.
At first glance, this rating makes for grim reading, but encouragingly, this increase in ‘cybermaturity’ benchmarking is galvanising many forward-thinking companies to make considerable changes in order to ramp up their security posture.
Among those are the two most ‘cybermature’ industries: finance and technology. It should come as no surprise that two such dominant sectors bear the brunt of the cybercrime offensive, each experiencing 17% of all attacks recorded in 2018. Yet despite enduring this barrage, the finance and tech industries also boast the highest ‘cybermaturity’ rating of any industry, with 1.71 and 1.66 respectively.
It’s from these heightened levels of ‘cyberpreparedness’ that the majority of businesses – regardless of size, sector, or market – can draw some vital lessons from. By benchmarking their maturity, companies are showing a real willingness to inspire positive change; with a greater focus on predictive threat intelligence, more considered and strategic investments, and higher levels of internal and external collaboration representing some of the most critical approaches separating the best-fortified organisations.
Indeed, the finance and technology sectors are the industries most keen to team up with external partners to evolve their long-term strategies and next-generation architectures, unlocking access to trillions of logs and billions of attack records that can be used to shape a more predictive approach to cybersecurity defence.
2. A strong future for predictive threat intelligence
With business vulnerabilities at a record high, the rise of predictive threat intelligence represents one of the most tangible and accessible ways that organisations can immediately bolster their security programmes.
The concept of cybersecurity defence evolving from a reactive to a more predictive model isn’t going to cause shockwaves among IT teams, but with our understanding of AI and machine learning technologies increasing – and attackers’ methods becoming more sophisticated in tandem – its application has never been more pertinent.
In fact, the market for threat intelligence tools is now expected to surge to USD 12.9 billion by 2023, at a growth rate of 19.7% each year. This prediction, along with news that venture capital firm Insight Partners has splashed out USD 780 million on threat intelligence company Recorded Future, indicates this field is about to go through a sustained period of unprecedented innovation.
One of the secrets to unlocking the potential to predictive threat intelligence lies in the amount of threat information you are able to collect. Security teams need to start digging deeper into the murkier and harder to reach corners of the internet – such as the dark web – to outsmart the bad guys. With machine learning potentially monitoring billions of logs, patterns can be identified and automated safeguards established so that attacks can be deflected instantly.
And the more granular you can go, the better – it affords security and IT teams with that much-needed structure and context to turn raw data into actionable intelligence.
3. Cybersecurity investments becoming more considered and strategic
With almost two-thirds of companies citing a poor understanding of their current risk profile as the primary inhibitor to a better cybersecurity posture, it’s clear that in order to better bolster their barricades, organisations must exercise a more strategic and calculated approach to cybersecurity investment.
The good news is that senior executives are finally prioritising cybersecurity as a critical boardroom concern – but from the lowly 1.45 out of 5 average cybermaturity rating, it’s painfully clear that ambitions are outpacing preparedness. This benchmark needs to change – but where should organisations channel their investment in order to best fortify their defences?
With the cryptocurrency market surging by 51% since the start of 2019, illicit cryptojacking techniques have followed suit, skyrocketing by a staggering 459% last year. To best prevent, detect, and recover from cryptojacking, organisations should consider introducing egress and ingress filtering restrictions to moderate outbound traffic, denying stratum protocol usage, or segmenting your network environments to make it more difficult for an attacker to penetrate an attack through your entire network.
Segmenting your network environments is a method that can also be applied when defending against web-based attacks, which doubled during 2018 and now account for almost a third of all hostile traffic. Performing regular vulnerability scans will help you identify issues earlier on during the development cycle, while enforcing secure coding practices will ensure applications remain solid from the moment throughout their design and launch.
Of course, the level of investment in these areas depends on your market and sector, where frequency and volume of attack types can vary greatly – but regardless of industry or location, one key focus cannot be ignored – compliance. Embedding compliance requirements into your strategy is essential, and with such a wealth of information-sharing and collaborative tools available, there’s no excuse for not keeping pace with the latest regulatory requirements.
Success is achieved when organisations invest proportionately in people, processes, and tools to provide a solid foundation of security and data privacy expertise, across all technology stacks. Benchmarking yourself against industry best practices and control frameworks provides an easy way to measure the return on an organisation’s security investment.
Simply put, you cannot manage what you cannot measure, so it’s critical companies understand their compliance posture and plan ahead so they can achieve their security ambitions.
For more cybersecurity insights from the inside – inspired by intelligence gleaned from trillions of logs and billions of attack records – read Dimension Data’s Executive Guide to NTT Security’s 2019 Global Threat Intelligence Report.