Attacks on Virtual Infrastructure Cause Double the Pain

The cost of recovering from a security incident doubles when the attack affects virtual infrastructure, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab.

Attacks on virtual environments are so costly due in large part to the complexity of the recovery, and the criticality of the information hosted virtually.

Kaspersky’s report, Security of Virtual Infrastructure, is based on a worldwide sample of 5500 companies.

For enterprises, the average cost of recovery for a virtual breach is $800k, twice as much as an attack that only knocks out physical assets. The impact is no less severe for SMBs, which on average reported a $26k bill for recovery on physical systems, which escalates to $60k when virtualization is involved.

The fallout from can be so harsh because 66% of incidents affecting virtual platforms result in the temporary inaccessibility of critical information, up from 36% on attacks on physical platforms.

When hackers target virtual desktops or servers, it is also more likely that third-party help will need to be brought in to aid in the restoration – IT consultants, legal and risk professionals, and PR firms for example. Indeed, 48% of security breaches against virtual systems bring about loss of credibility or damage to company reputation – a problem that falls outside the traditional remit of IT or security professionals when it comes to remediation.

But despite the fact that 62% of businesses now deploy virtualization (up to 77% in firms over 1500 employees), Kaspersky uncovered concerning attitudes towards the security of such technologies.

Over two in five businesses (42%) consider the security risks of virtualization to be less significant than those facing physical environments. A similar-sized group (45%) sees the security management of virtual platforms as problematic, while well under a third (27%) have a security solution that is tailored to protecting virtual systems.

“The root of many problems with virtual environment protection comes from the old misconception that risks in these environments are significantly lower than in physical environments,” the report states.

Significantly, 34% of respondents were unaware that there is a difference between security solutions specialized for virtual environments and their traditional counterparts.

Kaspersky concludes:

The industry’s understanding of this technology, especially virtual-specific security issues, is far from perfect. Virtual environments are trusted more than physical servers, and nothing can be trusted in a grim security environment. This leads to higher recovery costs and inefficient security approaches being deployed. In turn, poor decisions affect ROI and may lead to disappointment in virtualization in the future, an attitude virtual infrastructure does not deserve.

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