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Less than a Quarter of Businesses Are Cyberattack-Ready

On average, only 23% of organizations are capable of responding effectively to a cyber-incident. This is especially bad for companies in the retail and hospitality sectors, which were the top-attacked verticals in 2015.

That’s the word from NTT Group’s annual Global Threat Intelligence Report, which found that not only do 77% have no capability to respond to critical incidents, but that the addressable fixable issues of social engineering and exploits of old vulnerabilities continue to be popular attack vectors.

In fact, spear phishing attacks accounted for approximately 17% of incident response activities supported in 2015. In many cases, the attacks targeted executives and finance personnel with the intent of tricking them into paying fraudulent invoices.

The bad guys are putting more effort into social engineering too. Activity related to the reconnaissance phase of the Lockheed Martin Cyber Kill Chain (CKC) accounted for nearly 89% of all log volume. These logs accounted for approximately 35% of escalated attack activity, making reconnaissance the largest single element in the CKC.

The report also found that all of the top 10 vulnerabilities targeted by exploit kits during 2015 are related to Adobe Flash. In 2013, the top 10 vulnerabilities targeted by exploit kits included one Flash and eight Java vulnerabilities. That has changed as new Java vulnerabilities have dropped steadily since 2013. The number of publicized Flash vulnerabilities jumped by almost 312% over 2014 levels.

But here’s the kicker: Nearly 21% of vulnerabilities detected in client networks were more than three years old. Results included vulnerabilities from as far back as 1999, making them more than 16 years old.

The retail sector meanwhile experienced the most attacks per client, according to the report, at just under 11%—nearly three times as many attacks as clients in the finance sector. Retailers often process large volumes of personal information—including credit card data—in highly distributed environments with many endpoints and point of service devices. Such diverse environments can be difficult to protect, the report noted.

The hospitality sector faces many of the same challenges as the retail sector, also processing high volumes of sensitive information including credit card data. Transactions in the hospitality sector, that includes hotels and resorts, tend to be sizable, that can make compromising those card numbers more attractive to attackers.

The hospitality sector also includes a significant number of loyalty plans that house even more personal information then insurance, government and manufacturing. While the finance sector showed the highest volume of attacks overall, on a per-client basis, retail clients experienced 2.7 times the number of attacks as finance.

The insurance and government sectors both ranked in the top five most attacked sectors in 2015, and manufacturing continued to detect significant attacks, consistent with levels experienced in previous years. Overall, clients in the top five sectors experienced more than 44% of the attacks observed by NTT Group during 2015.

The report also found that there’s been an 18% rise in malware detected for every industry other than education.

One bright spot: DoS/DDoS attack volume fell 39% from levels observed in 2014. Implementation of better mitigation tools, along with fewer attacks, combined for a drop in detections of denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) activities. But, extortion based on the victim’s paying to avoid or stop DDoS attacks became more prevalent.

Photo © OlegDoroshin/Shutterstock.com

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