October 6, 2014 By Douglas Bonderud 2 min read

The goal of any cybersecurity plan is to stop malicious attacks, but according to a recent survey, most companies still miss the mark when it comes to protection, detection and mitigation. The U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey was recently sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the Community Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon University, CSO Magazine and the U.S. Secret Service. The survey’s findings beg the question: Where’s the disconnect?

Forest for the Trees

Information technology (IT) professionals are well aware of the security threats posed by technologies such as cloud computing, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend and socially engineered phishing attacks. However, according to CSO Online, this kind of focus can be risky.

“You’ll often see organizations spend to secure [against] the current big threat but not focus on building a sustainable security program,” said John Pescatore of the SANS Institute.

In other words, the presence of a readily identifiable threat such as Heartbleed, Bash or the new Spike distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) toolkit spurs in-the-moment action, but this doesn’t always carry over to long-term security. By the numbers? Only 38 percent of organizations are able to focus investments on actual risks and repercussions rather than careening from crisis to crisis.

The results are costly; last year, average breaches ran over $400,000. What’s worse is that only one-third of respondents could even estimate these losses. Legal challenges, such as the class-action suit against Community Health Systems after its recent breach, add to this total and damage public perception, putting future revenue at risk.

Keeping Pace

According to PWC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey, 69 percent of CEOs are worried that cyberthreats will impact their growth. However, cloud offerings and mobile device controls are growing at a breakneck pace. Paula Tolliver of Dow Chemical points out the real risk, saying these technologies “are moving so quickly that IT security technologies can’t keep up.” Right now, it’s a question of reach exceeding grasp; companies know they need to leverage tech innovations to stay current, but cybercriminals are a step ahead.

Consider BYOD: Only 38 percent of survey respondents said their organization encrypted mobile devices, and less than half had a plan to respond in the event of an insider breach. Cloud computing, meanwhile, is entering a more mature market phase, prompting its own unique problems. Just two years ago, 54 percent of companies had a plan in place to vet third-party cloud security; last year, only 44 percent did the same.

Cybercrime Survey: Share and Share Alike

While the survey results aren’t exactly encouraging, there’s still hope, and it starts with information sharing. Historically, companies have been hesitant to disclose the existence of a breach, let alone specific details. However, that’s changing with the rise of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers that focus on “what” rather than “who” and use aggregate data to develop effective, long-term strategies.

In fact, cybercrime survey participants reported that the best way to detect criminal activity was through the use of an incident response team rather than individual effort. On a global scale, meanwhile, even police agency INTERPOL hopes this kind of collaboration will prove useful; opening this year, the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation wants to give law enforcement officials “real-time access to information beyond their own borders.”

Companies aren’t hitting the mark when it comes to cybersecurity, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The rise of real-time information sharing and collaboration over stony silence and crisis-to-crisis management offers a new avenue for proactive rather than reactive IT defense.

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