Liviu Arsene, senior e-Threat analyst, Bitdefender
Liviu Arsene, senior e-Threat analyst, Bitdefender

Pressure from cyber-attacks and Blitzkrieg attacks is intensifying to the point that CEOs have taken CIOs into the boardroom. Bitdefender research shows that only 55 percent of cyber-attacks are being stopped, detected or prevented with current resources. While cloud security has outspent physical security, two in three IT security decision makers believe that current security budgets are sufficient to fend off potential threats. However, 90 percent of them agree that security is a top concern for any organisation.

With virtualisation and hybrid infrastructures becoming the norm for fast-growing companies, the repercussions of security breaches related to customer and mission-critical data have increased to the point where 56 percent of companies would actually pay to resolve a security issue. However, the amount ranges from less than US$ 10k/£8k (41 percent) to US$ 10K— US$ 99K/£8k to £80k (33 percent), and US$ 100k-US$ 500k/£80k to £400k (19 percent). On average, more than half of UK companies would be willing to pay around £82k to avoid public shaming after a security breach.

Targeted threats coupled with Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are spearheading some of the most publicised recent attacks. Although 30 percent of companies have been breached in the past 12 months, 87 percent of the IT decision makers are clueless as to how attackers got into their networks. Of course, these are just the decision makers who know they have suffered a security breach, excluding the fact that sometimes it takes a lot longer for organisations to even pick up on the fact that a breach is in progress. And, although IT decision makers focus their concerns on advanced threats, security experts estimate that Blitzkrieg attacks could be a natural evolution from persistency within an organisation's network, to rapid lateral movement and data exfiltration followed by threats of public shaming unless ransom demands are met.

With virtualisation playing a pivotal role in cloud service providers, the chances for attackers to compromise the hypervisor from an infected VM and leverage it to jump across virtual instances increases the risk of affecting not just one customer, but several sharing the same physical system. This type of “bad neighbourhood” scenario could ultimately lead to intellectual property and customer data theft that could affect both the service provider and other clients.

With businesses targeted more often than usual – even by ransomware that has been previously more prevalent with average users – attacks and threats have recently been gunning for business infrastructures, causing financial losses worldwide estimated in the billions of dollars. With nine in 10 UK IT decision makers perceiving security as a top priority for companies, one third of respondents believe their job has completely changed in recent years.

A dominant theme seems to be that current IT security budgets and spending is not enough to prevent, detect and remove advanced threats. As a result, almost half of cyber-attacks remain undetected, and a third of UK CIOs believe their job has become more important in the company's hierarchy. Virtualisation and hybrid infrastructure deployments have changed the game in terms of infrastructure cost efficiency and in terms of cyber-security risks. Balancing the two remains a task that board members need to tackle, by actively involving CIOs in decision-making processes.

Contributed by Liviu Arsene, senior e-Threat analyst, Bitdefender

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media or Haymarket Media.