Top 10 Information Security Worst of 2015

Top 10 Information Security Worst of 2015

Information security under assault

While 2014 became known as the "Year of the Information Security Breach," in 2015 privacy got thrown out the window. Fueled by success, cyber criminals were more sophisticated. They used better tools and exploited bigger targets with greater frequency.

In response, IT organizations are evolving to view information security not just as part of cost of doing business, but also as a driver of growth. This perception shift assumes a transformation of security within organizations. To determine 2015’s security worsts, we’ll examine research, results and top priorities.

How many of 2015’s information security worst apply to you?

10 Countries account for 100% of web app attacks

Ever wonder, which countries contribute the most to cybercrime? Ten countries account for 100% of global web application attack traffic. In 2015 according to Statista, 59% of web app attack traffic originated from IP addresses in the United States. Cyber criminals did not go far, because 75% of attacks were directed at US websites.

 1-United States59
 7-United Kingdom3
9 Days on average for email Phishing Campaigns

Attackers streamlined, upgraded, and shared phishing techniques during 2015. Companies struggled to prevent proven tactics so says the 2015 Symantec’s ISTR20, Internet Security Threat Report. While networks were breached by highly targeted phishing campaigns, attacks increased eight percent overall.

The report notes hackers used less effort phishing than in previous years. They deployed 14% fewer campaigns at 20% less targets. Typically, campaigns focused on 18 recipients per attack. They lasted nine-days with 50% of targets identified as individual contributors and managers.

8 of 10 organizations lack control over Privileged Identities

The 2015 Cyber Security Defense Report sampled over eight hundred CIOs, CISOs, and senior security professionals. Only 23% expressed confidence in their organizations investments in monitoring privileged users. Nearly one-third indicated clear skepticism regarding their privileged identity controls. Another half expressed uncertainty in this area.

Given credential theft and reuse attacks remain formidable threats facing organizations, security professionals must place significant emphasis on identifying the misuse of privileged accounts by compromised administrators as well as external compromises of such accounts.

7 out of 10 organizations reported breaches in 2015

The 2015 Cyber Security Defense Report also revealed the extent of attacks. Over the past 12-months, seven out of 10 organizations were successfully attacked. Ironically, despite more than 70% of computing environment being compromised, only 52% considered it "somewhat likely" or "very likely" that it would happen again over the next 12 months.

This year’s optimism represents an improvement over 2014. Last year only 39% considered it likely their organizations would be compromised in 2015. Clearly, continued investment in information security is needed.

6 of 10 organizations are becoming more vulnerable

The InformationWeek Dark Reading 2015 Strategic Security Survey reports 60% of respondents believe they are more vulnerable to security breaches. Most noted the evolving sophistication of cyber threats along with increasing ways to attack corporate networks. Citing, phishing, denial-of-service and malware, numerous attacks were successful.

Of these 15% reported they were victim to a directly targeted breach. In such cases, attackers invested significant time and resources to obtain specific information. These attacks are more difficult to prevent, detect, and mitigate.

5 out of 10 organizations lack sufficient governance

The Ponemon Institute 2015 State of the Endpoint Report identifies governance as a barrier to mitigating attacks. Of the IT and IT security practitioners surveyed, 50% indicated a “lack of governance and control processes” creates the one biggest gap in stopping security attacks.

While identity management exists in 52% of organizations, the number represents a small increase from last year. Though deploying identity management controls are considered best practice, lagers point to lack of time and money as the reason.

4 of 10 IT budgets prevent strong security

The 2015 Global Study on IT Security Spending & Investments published by the Ponemon Institute reports 43% of management and IT practitioners believe their security budgets are less than adequate to achieving a strong security posture.

The research expresses difficulties IT security practitioners face in achieving a stronger security posture because of inadequate budgets and the lack of C-level and board of director involvement. The report recommends IT security practitioners become integral to a companies’ IT spending and investment process.

3 of the 5 largest security breaches in HITM

The December 2015 Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Data Breach Report provides confirmed security attacks. Of the five industry categories reported, Medical/Healthcare, with over 177 million records stolen, represents the largest category. With twice the stolen records as the other categories combined, Medical/Healthcare appears in three of top five, four of top six, and eight of the top thirteen breaches this year.

1-Anthem, Inc.Medical/Healthcare78,800,000
3-T-Mobile / ExperianBusiness15,000,000
4-Premera Blue CrossMedical/Healthcare11,000,000
5-Blue Cross Blue ShieldMedical/Healthcare10,000,000

2 Presidential candidates in Datagate scandals

When the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach exposed over 21 million government workers, information security became a presidential issue. It potentially represents the most damaging national security breach to ever.

Throughout 2015, hackers targeted seven Donald Trump hotels stealing credit card and security codes from thousands of guests. The crash of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) software firewall allowed candidate Bernie Sanders’s staff to view Hillary Clinton’s proprietary voter lists. Both incidents raise legitimate concerns surrounding each candidate’s ability to secure our digital identities and privacy.

1 Strong password policy makes a difference

Easy-to-crack passwords continue to create the most common access states the 2015 Trustwave Global Security Report. Weak passwords led to many high-profile attacks. Coupled with password reuse, when unsecured personal accounts are hacked, it becomes an organization’s problem.

With the variety of electronic mediums to collaborate, communicate, and transfer files, insecure avenues of engagement are created. To avoid these issues, enforce a strong password policy that requires users to change their passwords on a scheduled basis. At the same time, implement multi-factor authentication, which makes compromised credentials unusable.

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Written by Thomas Edgerton

Thomas Edgerton, Avatier's MVP award-winning Market Analyst and Performance Consultant in information technology, IT security, instructional technology and human factors, blogs on topics ranging from leadership to national security, innovation and deconstructing the future.​