Lack of resources affecting critical infrastructure security: Report

Symantec survey warns that companies need to prepare for the next Duqu

Australia has experienced a declining participation in government-lead critical infrastructure protection (CIP) programs this year due to fewer resources, according to a new survey from Symantec.

The <i>CIP Survey 2011</i>, based on research conducted in 37 countries during August and September 2011, found that only 28 per cent of Australian companies were taking part in CIP programs compared to 60 per cent in 2010.

Thirty per cent of respondents were aware of the government critical infrastructure plans being discussed in Australia, compared to 66 per cent last year.

However, the drop in awareness and participation was due to reduced staff numbers and resources. Critical infrastructure providers, such as utility companies, indicated that they had to focus efforts on every day cyber threats.

Symantec US global intelligence network director, Dean Turner, said in a statement that the findings of the survey were “somewhat alarming” given recent attacks, such as Duqu — a Trojan that infects systems by exploiting a previously unknown Windows kernel vulnerability.

“Businesses and governments around the world should be very aggressive in their efforts to promote and coordinate protection of critical industry cyber networks,” he said.

The survey included some key recommendations to help companies prepare for future cyber attacks.

Enforce IT policies and automate compliance processes

“By prioritising risks and defining policies that span across all locations, organisations can enforce policies through built-in automation and workflow,” Turner said. “Not only can they identify threats but remediate these as they occur or anticipate them before they happen.”

Manage systems

According to Turner, companies could do this by implementing secure operating environments, distributing and enforcing patch levels, automating processes to streamline efficiency and reporting on system status.

Protect the infrastructure

“Defending critical internal servers and implementing the ability to back up and recover the data should be priorities,” he said. “Organisations also need the visibility and security intelligence to respond to threats rapidly.”

Develop an information management strategy

“Organisations need to stop using backup for archiving and legal holds, implement deduplication everywhere to free resources, use a full featured archive system and also deploy data loss prevention technologies,” Turner said.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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