Why IT admins can’t afford to let their guard down

Marc Thaler

When was the last time you recall IT security and contact sports mentioned in the same breath? Well, there’s a saying often heard on the lacrosse field, for instance, that should resonate with IT administrators whose job is protecting the corporate network:

“Keep your head on a swivel!”97890716Coaches and athletes alike preach those six words. They offer a serious reminder to stay alert at all times; harmful hits can come anytime, from anywhere. Similarly, as attack vectors increase in volume, variety and sophistication, IT admins that fail to remain focused on securing their network may well be blindsided.

And the lapse only needs to be momentary.

According to Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR): “We have more incidents, more sources, and more variation than ever before—and trying to approach tens of thousands of incidents using the same techniques simply won’t cut it.”

This infographic shows that 92% of the 100,000 security incidents Verizon analyzed in the past 10 years could be grouped into nine attack patterns. Verizon listed them as:

  • Point-of-sale intrusions
  • Web application attacks
  • Insider misuse
  • Physical theft/loss
  • Miscellaneous errors
  • Crimeware
  • Card skimmers
  • Denial-of-service attacks
  • Cyber-espionage

Even the most vigilant IT admin faces a daunting task. That’s why implementing a comprehensive security suite that features real-time threat protection is essential. Use of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices in the workplace has exploded as employees send, receive, search, and store greater amounts of business-critical data via wireless networks. Cybercriminals are well aware, and they have adjusted their attack strategies accordingly.

Meanwhile, malware continues to be a monster.

In the Ponemon Institute’s 2013 Cost of Cybercrime Study: United States, 97% of companies said they experienced attack by malware. It was second only to viruses, worms and Trojans (100%), and well ahead of:

  • Botnets (73%)
  • Web-based attacks (63%)
  • Denial of service (50%)
  • Malicious code (48%)
  • Malicious insiders (42%)
  • Phishing and social engineering (42%)
  • Stolen devices (33%)

Ponemon’s study also found that the occurrence of attacks continues to increase. The companies in the study experienced, on average, “122 successful attacks per week” in 2013—up from 102 per week in 2012. (In 2010, the number was 50.)

In any contact sport, the threats you see coming are typically easier to avoid. It’s the ones you don’t see—especially when they come fast and furious—that can send you to the sideline.

The same holds true when it comes to securing your network.