Cyber security not just IT's problem: McAfee Credit: Christina MorilloCreative Commons
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Cyber security not just IT's problem: McAfee

IT security professionals are still struggling to fully secure their organisations and protect against breaches, according to a new report.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of IT workers surveyed for McAfee’s Grand Theft Data II – The Drivers and Shifting State of Data Breaches said they have experienced a data breach at their current employer despite improvements in combating cyber crime and other threats.

Data breaches are becoming more serious as cyber criminals continue to target intellectual property putting the reputation of the company brand at risk and increasing financial liability.

IT departments need a cyber security strategy that includes implementing integrated security solutions combined with employee training and an overall culture of security throughout the organisation to reduce future breaches.

Candace Worley, vice president and chief technical strategist at McAfee said threats have evolved and will continue to become even more sophisticated.

“Organisations need to augment security measures by implementing a culture of security and emphasising that all employees are part of an organisation’s security posture, not just the IT team,” she said.

“To stay ahead of threats, it is critical companies provide a holistic approach to improving security process by not only utilising an integrated security solution but also practicing good security hygiene.”

Highlights from McAfee’s report include:

  • Savvier thieves: Data is now being stolen by a wide range of methods, with no single technique dominating the industry. The top vectors used to exfiltrate data are database leaks, cloud applications and removable USB drives.
  • IP tied for 1st: Personally identifiable information (PII) and intellectual property (IP) are now tied as the data categories with the highest potential impact to 43 per cent of respondents. In Asia-Pacific countries, intellectual property theft is of greater concern (51 percent) than PII.  
  • Blame game: IT is looked at as the culprit with 52 per cent of respondents claiming IT is at fault for creating the most data leakage events. Business operations (29 per cent) follows as the next most likely to be involved. Highly regulated internal groups including finance (12 per cent) and legal (6 per cent) were the most secure.
  • The great divide: Security technology continues to operate in isolation, with 81 per cent reporting separate policies or management consoles for cloud access security broker (CASB) and data loss prevention (DLP), resulting in delayed detection and remediation actions.
  • Taking responsibility: There is a rift in regard to accountability – 55 per cent of IT professionals believe that c-level executives should lose their job if a breach is serious enough, yet 61 per cent also state that the c-level executives they work with expect more lenient security policies for themselves.
  • Future proofing: IT professionals are taking action, with almost two-thirds stating they have purchased additional DLP, CASB and endpoint detection solutions over the last 12 months. Respondents believe that between 65 and 80 per cent of breaches experienced would have likely been prevented if one or more of these systems had been installed.

Read more: Government's $156M cybersecurity pledge a “drop in the bucket”: White hat hacker

The stakes are higher as multiple attack methods are now used in a breach as cyber criminals continue to target personal data and intellectual property, said Worley.

“IT security teams are increasingly concerned about external threat actors compromising their network, which has forced more organisations to publicly disclose when breaches occur,” she said. “The severity of publicly disclosing breaches results not only in financial repercussions but damage to brand and reputation as well.”

Read more: Software companies keep making these same cyber security mistakes

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