|By Sanjay Zalavadia||
|June 30, 2016 05:00 PM EDT||
Information security has become a critical priority for many businesses over the past decade, and for good reason. It seems like a new breach is exposed on nearly a daily basis, impacting another organization and its patrons. However, some companies believe that they're safe because they're either too small or too big to be affected by any of these cyberattacks. The truth is that groups of all sizes from Target to your local dentist are being hacked or having their data compromised, and it's causing a major upheaval in the security community.
Businesses tend to also think that they are more protected than they were 10 years ago due to the advancement of safeguarding solutions. However, as security testing tools have developed, so have the threats that aim to breach the cyber walls and grab your information. Let's take a look at how information security threats have evolved, what vulnerabilities we currently face and how to strengthen overall protection.
Where we were
In order to progress, it's first important to understand where we've come from in terms of threats we've once faced and what responses we've taken to mitigate these issues. When you think of offices in 2001, you likely imagine desktops, fax machines and dial-up Internet. Back then, there were 50 million Internet users, 40 million websites and 31 billion sent emails, according to a Microsoft infographic. Hackers were focused on vandalism and denial of service, committing acts mostly for fame and exposing lax security. These individuals were mostly unfunded and unorganized and didn't have a real incentive for the audience they affected.
In this type of environment, many organizations were able to quickly adapt their security strategies or throw up a stronger firewall in order to deter these threats. It was made easier by the fact that all employees traditionally worked in one office and internal IT teams managed company-owned devices. However, things didn't stay this simple, and it's because of this evolution that the security world is going through some major changes to keep up with current technology trends.
State of security now
In the past 15 years, things have developed drastically due to hardware and software
In the past 15 years, things have developed drastically due to hardware and software advancements. Currently, there are over 3 billion Internet users and approximately 1 billion websites, according to Internet Live Stats, and research from Radicati noted that there are 215.3 billion emails sent and received every day. These are obviously major increases from the 2001 numbers, and they show just how much things have changed due to Internet improvements and the proliferation of mobile devices.
Quality software can help deter current information security threats.
As the number of hardware options have changed, hackers have adapted their game to better utilize these new end points. Cyberattackers now are well-funded professionals that often aim to take your information and control your devices. Instead of aiming for a random audience as was traditional in the past, hackers are now gunning for specific targets and have a black market available to sell information. This has created a lot of problems for organizations and has lit a fire under security providers to ensure that data is protected from current and emerging threats.
Threats aren't just external
Although there are many threats that can come from outside an organization, your employees can also contribute to your potential for a data breach. In an interview with Digital Guardian, Ashley Schwartau noted that the biggest mistakes you can make are to assume that employees know your security policies and care enough to follow them. This is especially true when considering phishing attacks and the use of business-approved applications. A report from Intel found that 43 percent of data loss occurs from internal actors, splitting evenly between intentional and accidental incidents. These numbers speak volumes to how vulnerable your staff members are and how you need to train them on the best practices to avoid issues.
Software quality linked to breaches
With the threat of employees using unapproved applications, it's important for businesses to provide them with a program that will fully meet their needs and be convenient to use. If software doesn't have the features workers need to complete their daily tasks, they'll likely turn to consumer-grade applications that will not have the security capabilities your organization requires. This would leave a gaping hole in your protection strategy and give hackers an open door to your most critical data. By conducting software security testing, you can reinforce your applications while still focusing on the functionality that staff members are looking for.
It's also important to note that software in general should be thoroughly tested to ensure better quality and mitigate any actionable defects. The Online Trust Alliance found that 90 percent of breaches could have been prevented in the first half of 2014. This can be done from a combination of educating employees, enforcing password management and conducting regular app testing. Further, CAST Research Labs found a direct correlation between data breaches and poor code quality across consumer applications. By focusing on testing and using the right tools, organizations can mitigate these threats and strengthen their overall security capabilities in the process.
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