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IT security: Locking down big data

Organizations in fleet management, retail, manufacturing and government are prime targets for significant data breaches this year, industry analysts predict.

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A business associate’s corporate email account was hacked recently, sending phishing messages to everyone in her contact list. Most recipients were savvy enough to recognize the scam, and in the end it amounted to little more than a nuisance.

But that’s not typically the case with security breaches, which often come at a hefty price for organizations that fall victim. Calculating the cost isn’t easy, but the stakes almost always go beyond the financial and into areas such as reputational damage and backlash from customers.

Recent news that a hacker compromised more than one billion Yahoo user accounts broke the company’s own record for the biggest security breach in history, and as a result it may be facing a class-action lawsuit.

Last year was a banner year for large-scale security breaches with about two-thirds of organizations reporting an increase in the number of attacks, arriving in the form of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware and misdirection. Industry analysts have predicted more of the same for this year as big data overtakes the enterprise and new Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices are deployed across networks.

Large-scale IoT security breaches are on the horizon and will leave some industries particularly vulnerable, Forrester analyst Frank Gillett tells TechRepublic.

“The biggest targets are fleet management in transportation, security and surveillance applications in government, inventory and warehouse management applications in retail, and industrial asset management in primary manufacturing,” Gillett says.

Companies need to look beyond their own resources
create multi-layered, well-integrated architectures
of blocking sophisticated cyber attacks.

KuppingerCole teamed up with BARC to explore how security analytics technology factors into corporate security strategies, and found that increasingly sophisticated attack methods used by cyber criminals and malicious insiders in large-scale security breaches mean that traditional approaches to information security are no longer appropriate.

The research suggests the most effective security strategy in the digital age is to collect both historical and real-time security events from various sources across IT systems and networks, and perform a centralized analysis of this data to identify malicious activities — something that’s happening in only about one-quarter of enterprises.

“Somewhat disturbingly, retail and services organizations were among those least concerned about the growing number of security threats. Considering the large number of recent high-profile data breaches of large retailers and online services, this indicates that some companies are still willing to learn exclusively from their own mistakes.”

The research also found that while some companies are being proactive — deploying security tools for threat detection, identity and access governance, strong authentication, security information and event management and security analytics — others still lack the competence or budgets to design their security infrastructure effectively.

“Most of them are still relying exclusively on the traditional perimeter security tools like firewalls and endpoint protection products like antiviruses to fight off the hackers, which nowadays, when the very notion of a security perimeter has almost disappeared, is no longer sufficient, to say nothing about the completely missing protection against malicious insiders.”

Recognizing that many organizations are challenged with a lack technical knowledge, skilled staff and management support, analysts suggest companies look beyond their own resources to create multi-layered, well-integrated architectures capable of blocking sophisticated cyber attacks.

“A possible way to address these challenges is to look for vendors offering managed services or even solutions deployed in the cloud,” says the study. “By identifying potential quick wins and looking for solutions for their specific security problems, organizations can easily find a product for any budget.”

Image: iStock

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