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​Attacks increase as businesses leave the back door open to breaches

​Attacks increase as businesses leave the back door open to breaches

“Advanced persistent threats have become the norm."

Many organisations are leaving the door open to an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack, with more than one in four businesses (28 per cent) have already experienced an APT attack.

According to a new cybersecurity study by global IT association ISACA, mobile device security continues to lag at many organisations, even though the bring your own device (BYOD) trend increases APT risk.

Three-quarters of respondents report that their organisations have not updated their third-party agreements to ensure better protection against APTs - billed as a “significant concern” since third-party relationships have resulted in many significant breaches.

Additionally, organisations continue to have a preference for technical controls rather than education and training, even though many successful APT attacks gain entry through social engineering attacks.

“Advanced persistent threats have become the norm," says Christos Dimitriadis, President, ISACA.

"Many major breaches are connected to APT tools and methodologies.

“As a result, it is more critical than ever for cybersecurity leaders and professionals to have a thorough understanding of these threats, and to be prepared to quickly and effectively respond.”

The survey report, which includes insights from more than 660 cybersecurity professionals, notes that social engineering remains at the centre of the APT’s efforts to gain footholds into companies’ information systems.

Early attempts began with phishing, evolved to spear phishing, and proceeded to whaling, which often included an attachment or a link that contained malware or an exploit.

However, over the past three years, Dimitriadis claims APTs have moved on to the Internet as the main attack vector, leveraging web sites, social media and mobile apps.

“But the news is not all bad,” Dimitriadis adds. “Overall, positive change is occurring as a result of the recent high-profile breaches.”

For Dimitriadis, a major improvement is the significant increase in leadership involvement.

Nearly two-thirds of the survey participants (62 per cent) indicate that their organisational leadership is becoming more involved in cybersecurity-related activities, and 80 per cent see a visible increase in support by senior management - which Dimitriadis as a “very positive first step” in combating the APT.

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