Businesses worry about vulnerabilities but aren’t looking for them very hard

Nearly half of APAC businesses only look for new threats once a year

New application vulnerabilities and cybersecurity threats may be emerging every day, but nearly half of APAC businesses are only scanning their environment for new threats once a year, according to a survey of CSOs that also found some 80 percent of organisations had been attacked at least once in the past 12 months.

The findings – from a Forrester Consulting survey on risk-management practices conducted for Tenable – found that phishing and DNS-based attacks were the most common in the pantheon of attacks that had created a range of consequences for their victims.

Those consequences were led by diversion of key personnel to respond to an attack – reported by 61 percent of respondents – to operational expenses related to downtime (60 percent) and the impact on customers leading to loss of future sales (57 percent).

Business disruption has become big business for cybercriminals, with many launching DDoS-for-hire services because it provides a big source of easy money. Other key impacts – including breaches of contract and SLA violations (55 percent), decreased employee productivity (53 percent), costs associated with damage control (52 percent), and brand and reputational damage (51 percent) – all outranked revenue loss.

“Some of the pain points identified by the respondents, such as difficulties with remediating breaches across security and operations, prioritising vulnerabilities and mobile and cloud threat monitoring, are a natural consequence of the evolving threat environment,” Tenable CEO Ron Gula said in a statement. “The size and complexity of Asia Pacific combined with the unique political, socioeconomic and cultural distinctions, make cybersecurity a major challenge for this region.

“To overcome these challenges and deliver a comprehensive security solution that adequately assesses and mitigates cyber risk, security decision makers need to re-evaluate their processes and technologies against industry best practices.” Unsurprisingly, risk management was a key priority within the respondents' IT organisations – which were spread across ANZ, China, Singapore, and Japan – with 46 percent naming it as a strategic IT objective. This was just shy of the top answer – improving IT service delivery for the business (named by 48 percent) – and ahead of improving employee (39 percent) and customer experience (37 percent). This didn't mean that customers were far from respondents' minds, however: application security was named as a 'high' or 'critical' priority by 89 percent of respondents, followed closely by data security (88 percent) and protection of customers' personal information (87 percent).

Despite their recognition of the importance of protecting data, however, the respondents admitted that they were spending less time than they should in scanning their environments for new threats. Just 22 percent said they were scanning on a continuous basis, while 28 percent said they were scanning for new threats on a monthly basis. Reasons given included for these shortcomings include difficulties remediating across security and operations; challenges prioritising vulnerabilities; difficulties spanning mobile and cloud threats.

Some 7 percent said they only scan for threats on a reactionary basis. The figures reflect ongoing evidence that security organisations continue to be ignoring the security basics, with most UK businesses recently found to be ignoring the government's top 5 security tips and vulnerabilities persisting in outdated platforms and patch-management strategies sketchy at best. This week, the US Department of Homeland Security issued an alert after warnings that organisations were still vulnerable to a bug in SAP enterprise software that had ben patched over 5 years ago.

Security industry figures can play a part in helping businesses progress their security protections, Gula said. “The security industry needs to help organisations in the region safeguard critical corporate assets, conform to the product and service standards their customers demand, and to help protect them from detrimental effects of cyber attacks to reputation and business continuity.”

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