The average large enterprise saw 106 previously-unknown pieces of malware an hour last year, up from just 2.2 the year before, according to a new report.
Check Point Software Technologies gathered network traffic from more than 60,000 enterprise gateways last year and the increase in new malware was "frightening," said Check Point Vice President Juliette Rizkallah.
It is difficult for criminals to come up with zero-day malware, which targets previously unknown vulnerabilities.
But it is very easy to tweak existing malware a little bit, she said, in a way that lets it evade signature-based antivirus systems.
"And the adoption of sandboxing is still quite low," Rizkallah said. "You're seeing a widening gap between the approaches and strategies that hackers use, and the adoption of the emerging technology that will help against zero-day threats."
The average large enterprise has a new, unknown malware downloaded every 34 seconds, and, once every minute, a bot communicates with its command and control center.
However, only 1 percent of enterprises use technologies that defend against zero-day attacks, and only 10 percent subscribe to threat intelligence services.
Mobile devices and unsanctioned apps
Check Point also conducted a global data breach survey of more than 700 businesses, and 42 percent reported that they had suffered mobile security incidents costing more than $250,000 to remediate.
In addition, 82 percent of respondents expected the problem to increase in 2015.
"BYOD is bring your own doom," Rizkallah said. "Security professionals understand that users really want to use their smartphone or tablet, but it does create an entry point for criminals and hackers into the network."
Security has been an afterthought, she said.
"Again, we're seeing a widening gap here," she added. "And if you look at the rise of wearables and how connected they're going to be, it's the same issue. There's definitely a struggle on the IT side to catch up to that."
In addition to bringing their own devices, employees are also bringing their own apps.
Check Point researchers found unapproved, high-risk applications in 96 percent of the enterprises studied. The are applications such as remote administration tools, file sharing apps like Dropbox, peer-to-peer file sharing software such as BitTorrent clients, and anonymizers.
In 2013, the percentage was 86 percent.
There were a few companies that block the use of these applications on their networks, but the numbers are shrinking, said Rizkallah. One reason is that these applications, when used legitimately, can help people do their jobs better.
Another reason is that everyone now carries a mobile device and can bypass all corporate security measures by simply bypassing the corporate network.
"It is so hard to tell users that they cannot use these apps," Rizkallah said.
Three or four years ago, there was hope that employee education and training would help address the problem.
"Now they're aware, and they're still doing it," she said. "And IT is doing it, and they're the most aware."
As a result, 81 percent of the enterprises studied by Check Point had sensitive data leaking out of the company.
These organizations, typically 10,000 employees or bigger in size, had a file containing sensitive data leaving the network every 36 minutes, on average.
Loss of proprietary information increased 71 percent over the past three years, Check Point reported.