SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

75% of AU businesses wrestling with increased attack surface

By Catherine Knowles
Tue 31 May 2022

Fastly has released new research in partnership with Ecosystm that shows 75% of Australian businesses are now living with a vastly increased attack surface caused by their reliance on web-based applications.

Large attack surfaces are routinely sought out and tested by attackers looking for less-protected entry points into corporate IT environments, the researchers state.

According to the survey, organisations in Australia moved en masse to more decentralised IT architectures over the past two years, but still struggle with some of the cybersecurity implications of these kinds of digital and cloud first operating models.

Cloud, web applications and the APIs that enable these apps to integrate and exchange data rate highly in the risk and challenge assessments by CIOs, IT directors and technology leaders of Australian organisations, according to the report.

API endpoints, cloud service provider authentication, and enterprise open source software are all seen to pose considerable risks as potential entry points for attackers. Inadequate controls around these architectural elements, coupled with a lack of operational maturity and reliance on traditional defensive postures, has Australian business leaders on edge and fearful of attacks.

The survey shows that 65% of large enterprises in Australia rate nation state attacks as a very high or high risk to their organisations. There is also concern among leaders of all business sizes over credential stuffing, which attackers may use to try to compromise cloud accounts and individual as-a-service logins.

The research also shows that:

  • IT leaders expect to increase focus on the security of web applications in the next two years, but more likely in 2023. Digital has dominated IT strategies over the past two years, but operating securely in a majority or fully web or cloud based environment means living with elevated risk tolerances and discomfort for security teams.
  • Application security often comes off second in the competition for attention and funding. More than half (53%) of IT leaders say they’re prioritising other digital transformation projects above application security in 2022, while 39% say other business initiatives outside of IT are taking priority, to the detriment of cybersecurity.
  • More than 40% of leaders identify cloud misconfiguration as being still among their top five cybersecurity challenges. Despite the attention and focus this issue has received in the past couple of years, and the rise of low-code/no-code platforms and configurations, cloud environments remain complex, and errors or misunderstandings mean even experienced engineers can encounter cost overruns and/or unintended data exposure risks. This is higher for enterprises (41%) than for large (22%) and medium-sized (26%) organisations.
  • The key challenge for managing application security initiatives is complexity. Overall, 55% of leaders say too many third parties are involved in end-to-end security of their applications, pointing to the new reality of operating in a cloud, web and API driven world.

According to the researchers, that is because a typical response by decision-makers to the increasing complexity of their technology environments is to deploy additional new security solutions. However, that approach means nearly half of Australian companies have more than 50 cybersecurity tools, and are battling alert fatigue and high false positive rates as a result.

The researchers state that organisations need a modern cybersecurity posture that enables them to anticipate threats before they happen, and respond instantly when attacks occur. They need security controls that are capable of automatically sensing, detecting, reacting and responding to access requests, authentication needs, and outside and inside threats.

Administration and application of these controls should also be automated to a high degree to improve coverage and consistency, and reduce the burden on Security Operations Centres (SOCs) and cybersecurity practitioners.

Fastly area vice president Australia and New Zealand, Derek Rast, says, "As Australian companies move deeper into digital transformations, they come up against a known problem: the challenges of securing a rapidly rising number of mission-critical cloud services and API-centric applications.

"The tools these companies use to secure their digital-first, cloud-first and microservices-based architectures need to evolve. Traditional web application and API security tools fall short in this regard. Leveraging Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) should be part of a holistic defence-in-depth security strategy."

Illustrating the cyber maturity challenges faced by Australian companies is the lack of consistency in the operating parameters, powers and preparedness of cyber threat and incident response teams, the researchers state.

The report finds one in three cyber threat response teams lacks the support of key internal stakeholders, is unclear about escalation points for incident management, and doesn't have the authority to confiscate or disconnect equipment and monitor suspicious activity, including from senior management.

In addition, when it comes to cyber threat response planning:

  • Only 54% have a full plan that includes legal and corporate communications teams,
  • 50% rehearse the plan at least once a year, the other half practice less frequently or don't practice at all, and
  • 48% have a timeframe for additions and improvements for the plan, and hold senior leaders responsible for making the improvements

Enterprises are more likely than large or medium-sized organisations to have a multi-stakeholder plan that is well-rehearsed, the report finds. However, they're also more likely to be subjected to regulated requirements for incident planning and response. This is supported in the study by compliance being identified as a major cybersecurity challenge facing organisations.

Medium and large organisations are more likely than enterprises to be rethinking the way they deploy applications and business logic to end users and to be in active pursuit of that target state.

The research shows 64% of medium-sized organisations and 56% of large organisations are embracing edge computing, moving business logic from application servers to an edge cache. By contrast, just 43% of enterprises are doing the same - 10% below the overall average.

Moving business logic from the backend to the edge not only increases application performance but can also substantially reduce an organisations risk, since user requests are funnelled through a single front door, instead of to any number of servers that host the application.

The survey represents the views of 200 cybersecurity decision-makers, mostly CIOs, IT Directors and equivalent titles, in Australia. It was commissioned by Fastly and conducted in April-May 2022. It covers organisations of three sizes: medium (101 to 499 staff), large (500 to 999) and enterprise (1000-plus staff).

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Equinix
Aussie businesses buckle down on digital tech investments
Australian businesses are planning major investments in digital technologies to support ambitious expansion plans.
Story image
ABI Research
75% of 5G networks to advance to 5G-Advanced by 2030
5G-advanced is set to launch in 2025, and 75% of 5G networks will upgrade by 2030, according to ABI Research. 
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Document Management
NZ's FileInvite raises $10M in latest investment round
FileInvite has raised $10 million in Series A investment to fast-forward the extinction of email for requesting and collecting documents online.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Training
Barracuda customises training to fit ACSC Essential Eight
Barracuda has announced that its Security Awareness Training now provides a customised training curriculum in line with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential Eight.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.