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Australian companies getting better at preventing focused cyberattacks

By Kai Ping Lew
Fri 6 Jul 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With cyberattacks on the rise, the average number of focused attacks per organisation within Australia has almost doubled this year (232) compared to the previous 12 months (106) In retaliation, organisations are upping their game and now preventing 87% of all focused attacks compared to 70% in 2017, according to a new study from Accenture.  In light of this progress, Australian organisations are looking to gain more ground by increasing their investment in innovative cyber resilient solutions; with 79% of Australian respondents citing breakthrough technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation as being essential to this.

“Only one in eight focused cyberattacks are getting through versus one in three last year, indicating that Australian organisations are doing a better job of preventing data from being hacked, stolen or leaked,” says Accenture Australia security lead Joseph Failla.

“However, Australian organisations still have more work to do.

“Building and allocating investment for security measures must be a priority for those organisations who want to close the gap on attacks even further,” Failla says.

“And for those who are successful, reaching a sustainable level of cyber resilience could become a reality in the next two to three years.”

Addressing cybersecurity from the inside out

On average, Australian respondents said only two-thirds (62%) of their organisation is actively protected by their cybersecurity program.

And while external incidents continue to pose a serious threat, the survey reveals that organisations should not forget about the enemy from within.

Two of the top three cyberattacks with the highest frequency and greatest impact within Australian organisations are internal attacks and accidentally published information.

While Australian organisations realise the benefits of investing in emerging technologies, more than half (53%) of Australian respondents cited legacy infrastructure as causing the biggest challenge in moving forward, compared to 45% globally. 

When asked which capabilities were most needed to fill gaps in their cybersecurity solutions, the top two Australian responses were cyber threat analytics (43%) and security monitoring (48%).

Security teams find breaches faster

It’s also taking less time to detect a security breach; from months and years to days and weeks. Nearly half (41%) of Australian organisations are able to remediate a breach in 30 days or less, with 44% of Australian organisations being able to find breaches between 1-7 days.

Although Australian companies are detecting breaches faster, security teams are still only finding 57% of them.

This underscores the need for collaborative efforts among business and government to stop cyberattacks.

When asked how they learn about attacks they have been unable to detect, Australian respondents indicated that nearly half (48%) are found by white-hat hackers and almost two thirds (62%) through a peer or competitor.

Five steps Australian organisations can take to achieve cyber resilience include:

  • Build a strong foundation. Identify high-value assets and harden them. Ensure controls are deployed across the organisation, not just the corporate function.  
  • Pressure test resilience like an attacker. Enhance red defence and blue defence teams with player-coaches that move between them and provide analysis on where improvements need to be made.  
  • Employ breakthrough technologies. Free up investment to invest in technologies that can automate defences.  
  • Be proactive and use threat hunting. Develop strategic and tactical threat intelligence tailored to your environment to identify potential risks. Monitor for strange activity at the most likely points of attack.  
  • Evolve the role of CISO. Develop the next-generation CISO to be heavily involved in the business.

For the 2018 State of Cyber Resilience study, Accenture surveyed 4,600 enterprise security practitioners representing companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more in 15 countries.

The purpose of the study is to understand the extent to which companies prioritise security, the effectiveness of current security efforts and the adequacy of existing investments.

More than 98% of respondents were sole or key decision-makers in cybersecurity strategy and spending for their organisation.

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