Cyberattacks From Outside the Perimeter Are Costly, Ponemon Institute Finds

A new study by the Ponemon Institute, “Security Beyond the Traditional Perimeter,” was released today. It considered external cyberattacks and assessed how they affect the enterprise.

The report found that 79 percent of the IT and security practitioners polled — which included 591 respondents from 505 different companies representing a wide range of industries — indicated their detection and mitigation strategy for cyberattacks was either nonexistent, applied ad hoc or inconsistently applied across the enterprise.

The findings also revealed that those companies that experienced a cyberattack in the past 24 months faced an average cost of about $3.5 million.

Focus Outside the Perimeter

The study examined the threats, costs and responses of companies with respect to cyberattacks. These threats included types of social engineering such as executive impersonations and branded attacks.

Such threats, which arise outside a company’s traditional security perimeter, may indicate that the perimeter has to be expanded. But doing so could open up another can of worms: It’s all the more important that things be done correctly when they’re done in motion. Professionals know you must first do no harm when you move security boundaries.

But before security professionals can address this problem, they need expertise, technology and third-party services to address these external threats. In fact, 64 percent of security leaders said they lacked the tools and resources needed to monitor outside sources of information. It’s hard to do something when you don’t have a way to do it.

The Wish List for Preventing Cyberattacks

The report gives credence to the idea that IT is aware of the social engineering exploits going on but doesn’t have a solution for preventing these types of cyberattacks.

“The majority of security leaders understand that these external internet threats imperil business continuity,” said Larry Ponemon, president of the Ponemon Institute. “The study highlights a gap in defenses against threats that have proven to be extremely effective for cybercriminals and costly for enterprises.”

Although security professionals know they need to change the way they battle cyberattacks, they aren’t prepared to meet that challenge. However, if given the tools, professionals would like their security perimeter to include features such as mobile app monitoring, social engineering awareness and infrastructure that prevents spear phishing.

Larry Loeb

Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other...