Cyberthreat Defense Report: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


For the first time in five years, the number of organizations victimized by a successful cyberattacks has decreased.

According to the CyberEdge Group’s “2018 Cyberthreat Defense Report,” 77 percent of U.S. businesses were compromised last year, down from 79.2 percent in 2016. However, apprehension about ransomware is on the rise, jumping from fifth to second on the list of the most pressing concerns among security professionals, and many organizations are still paying ransoms to untrustworthy fraudsters who often don’t keep their word to return stolen data.

The Good News

The CyberEdge Group report found that of the 61 percent of ransomware victims that refused to pay to recover their stolen files, 86.9 percent recovered their data from backups. In addition, the number of infected organizations fell from 61 percent in 2016 to 55 percent last year, and concern over insider threats dropped from third to tenth place among security professionals.

All told, the report revealed a significant step forward in overall security posture as cloud-based defenses and increasing organizational awareness combined to offset commonly reported threats. Furthermore, attackers are now targeting encrypted traffic to silently smuggle in compromised code, and companies are quickly wising up and using tools such as deep packet inspection to push back against increasingly sophisticated threats.

The Not-So-Good News

On the flip side, there’s still work required to ensure that malicious actors don’t win the cybersecurity arms race. While ransomware levels are falling, as noted in the “2018 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report,” the potential destruction caused by these infections is on the rise.

According to the CyberEdge report, meanwhile, roughly half (49.4 percent) of businesses that chose to pay up after a ransomware infection had their data returned. Other concerns detailed in the report include security issues surrounding application containers, controlling cloud access, and monitoring for threats across distributed endpoints and services. There’s also an uptick around the cybersecurity skills shortage — the skills gap now ranks as the top “inhibitor” among IT security professionals as the required number of experts falls far short of expected demand.

The Evolution of Cyberthreat Defense

On the plus side, 2017 marked the first year that both overall threats and ransomware infections declined — but it also marked a rise in cloud-based concerns around access and monitoring and challenges related to the talent shortage.

Ultimately, the CyberEdge report noted, cyberdefense evolution demands a one-two punch: Increased automation and machine learning to offset skills gap concerns combined with other advanced technologies that are “deployed optimally, configured correctly and monitored adequately to give your organization a fighting chance of not making tomorrow’s front page news.”

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