Report: Cyber-attacks cost companies more than revenue

Companies that suffer a data breach are subject to customer, opportunity and revenue losses well exceeding 20%.
 
This was according to the “2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report (ACR),” from Cisco, which surveyed nearly 3,000 chief security officers (CSOs) and security operations leaders from 13 countries in the “Security Capabilities Benchmark Study,” part of the ACR.
 
More than 50% of organizations faced public scrutiny after suffering a security breach. Operations and finance systems were the most affected, followed by brand reputation and customer retention. For organizations that experienced an attack, 22% lost customers — 40% of them lost more than 20% of their customer base. 
 
Twenty-nine percent lost revenue, with 38% of that group losing more than 20% of revenue. Another 23% of breached organizations lost business opportunities, with 42% of them losing more than 20% of potential business.
 
And not all attacks are “highly complex.” Criminals are leading a resurgence of “classic” attack vectors, such as adware and email spam, the latter at levels not seen since 2010. For example, spam accounts for nearly two-thirds (65%) of email with 8% to 10% cited as malicious. Global spam volume is rising, often spread by large and thriving botnets, the report said.
 
While attackers continue to leverage time-tested techniques, they also employ new approaches that mirror the “middle management” structure of their corporate targets. Dynamic changes in the technology landscape, led by digitization, are creating these opportunities for cybercriminals. 
 
For example, new attack methods model corporate hierarchies. Certain malvertising campaigns employed brokers (or “gates”) that act as middle managers, masking malicious activity. Adversaries can then move with greater speed, maintain their operational space, and evade detection.
 
Meanwhile, cloud architecture intended to open up new business opportunities and increase efficiencies were categorized as high risk. In fact, 27% of employee-introduced, third-party cloud applications intended to open up new business opportunities created significant security concerns for organizations. Adware, software that downloads advertising without user permission, also continued to prove successful, infecting 75% of organizations investigated, the study said.
 
“In 2017, cyber is business, and business is cyber — that requires a different conversation, and very different outcomes,” John Stewart, senior VP and chief security and trust officer, Cisco. “Relentless improvement is required and that should be measured via efficacy, cost, and well managed risk.”
 
The good news is companies are fighting back. In fact, 90% of breached organizations are improving threat defense technologies and processes by separating IT and security functions (38%), increasing security awareness training for employees (38%), and implementing risk mitigation techniques (37%).
 
Leaders also reveal that their security departments are increasingly complex environments with 65% of organizations using from six to more than 50 security products, increasing the potential for security effectiveness gaps.
 
To prevent, detect, and mitigate threats and minimize risk, retailers should:
 
• Make security a business priority: Executive leadership must own and evangelize security and fund it as a priority.
 
• Measure operational discipline: Review security practices, patch, and control access points to network systems, applications, functions, and data.
 
• Test security effectiveness: Establish clear metrics. Use them to validate and improve security practices.
 
• Adopt an integrated defense approach: Make integration and automation high on the list of assessment criteria to increase visibility, streamline interoperability, and reduce the time to detect and stop attacks. Security teams then can focus on investigating and resolving true threats.
 
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