Cyberattacks and Hacktivism – Take Cover!

Jan 8th 2013
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Cybersecurity experts at Deloitte are warning that when it comes to cyberattacks, it's not a question of "if" but a question of "when." A new study shows 88 percent of companies in technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) don't think they're vulnerable to an external cyberthreat.

In Deloitte's sixth annual Global TMT Security Study, 68 percent of companies said they understood their cyberrisks, and 62 percent had a program in place to sufficiently address them. Yet in the past year, over half (59 percent) said they had knowingly experienced a security incident. With this many successful attacks, companies should treat breaches as inevitable and invest significant time and effort in detection and response planning so they can bounce back quickly when it does happen. Despite this importance, only half of companies have this planning in place.

The human factor

Companies rated mistakes by their employees as a top threat, with 70 percent highlighting a lack of security awareness as a vulnerability. Despite this, less than half of companies (48 percent) offer even general security-related training, and 49 percent said lack of budget was making it hard to improve security. The impact of employees' actions – or rather inaction – can't be overstated, and it's important they're aware of their responsibilities. This is even more significant given the proliferation of people's own devices entering the workplace.

Bring your own

Today's smartphones and tablets are powerful enough to handle most business activities, and it's now common for employees to use their own devices for work. This intermingling of access to business data and use of personal software applications in one device make mobile devices a prime target for hackers and provide new entry points for attack. This territory is just being charted, and only 52 percent of TMT companies have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy in place, so it's not surprising 74 percent of respondents considered the increased use of mobile devices as a vulnerability.

It's who you know

A major concern for TMT companies was the security of the businesses they work with. In today's hyper-connected world, organizations are more reliant than ever on third parties. Sensitive information can often be found in the systems of businesses that support the supply chain and other business operations. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they were worried about these businesses being breached, so it's vitally important that organizations work with their third parties to understand and improve their security practices rather than rely on contractual agreements on security.

Who's watching you?

A major and relatively new threat is hacktivism, which combines social or political activism with hacking. Protesters who, in the past, might have blocked access to a business by staging a sit-in might now block access to its online operations through a denial-of-service attack. Effective handling of a hacktivist attack requires advance preparation, both from an IT and public relations perspective. 

Fortunately, the survey shows that TMT organizations are taking steps to get better awareness of cyberrisk: 55 percent of organizations are starting to gather general intelligence about these and other types of cybercrime, although just 39 percent are gathering information about attacks specifically targeted at their organization, industry, brand, or customers.

Planning for the future

Encouragingly, having a security strategy and road map topped the list of priorities for companies, implying that TMT organizations now recognize that being secure is smart business – not just a regulatory requirement. In addition, companies said the most important consequence of a security breach now is that customers will complain. People now have an understanding of security and little tolerance for mistakes – especially when their data is being held or they rely on a service.

Source: January 8, 2013, Deloitte Press Release


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