Study: Enterprises Wasting Time, Money Hunting Down False Positives

Unlike threat actors, enterprises have finite resources to dedicate to the war on malware. Even if enterprises had the means, however, throwing more money and people at malware containment wouldn’t necessarily level the playing field. The good news is that organizations can do much more with what they already have and make an impact.

According to a study Damballa commissioned from the Ponemon Institute, IT organizations are wasting valuable time and money hunting down false positives while advanced persistent threats evade preventive controls. Organizations spend an average of $1.2 million a year in time wasted responding to erroneous malware alerts, including false positives, and only 1 in 5 malware alerts deemed reliable are investigated.

For example, the typical organization has 17 IT or IT security staff members involved in the malware detection and containment process. Meanwhile, only 41 percent of survey respondents have automated tools to capture intelligence and evaluate the true threat caused by malware. Those that have such tools reported that an average of 60 percent of malware containment doesn’t require any human input or intervention. By implementing automated tools, IT organizations can free up some of those staff members. Resources can be further optimized by creating a structured malware containment process with one person or function accountable for overseeing the process.

With an average of 395 hours a week wasted chasing false negatives and/or false positives, organizations should also reevaluate where they obtain their threat intelligence. Sixty-nine percent of organizations use vendor-supplied information as their main source of threat intelligence, while 64 percent use peer-to-peer communications. Government and law enforcement are rarely the source of intelligence.

While IT organizations have an opportunity to strengthen their malware defenses, time constraints remain in the threat actors’ favor. The majority of survey respondents say the severity of malware infections has increased or significantly increased, while 45 percent say volume has increased in the past 12 months. There is no reason to believe this will change unless IT organizations begin optimizing their resources today.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series, which will discuss how many pieces of evidence it takes to convict.

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Brian Foster

CTO, Damballa

Brian Foster serves has Damballa’s CTO and is responsible for the company’s product vision and delivery. He brings over 25 years of successful security industry experience to Damballa. Prior to Damballa, Brian was senior vice president of product management at McAfee, where during his tenure he directed the strategy and development of consumer, mobile and enterprise security solutions. Before McAfee, Foster spent over 20 years at Symantec in a range of roles including engineering, project management, development, and product management on lines such as Norton Utilities and Norton AntiVirus. Foster earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and has attended the Executive Program in Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.