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Australian cyber risk improves, insiders remain persistent threat

Trend Micro has announced that cyber risk levels have improved from "elevated" to "moderate" for the first time, but insiders represent a persistent threat for global organisations.

"We saw the Australian cyber risk index (CRI) improve from -0.54 in 1H 2022 to -0.12 in 2H 2022. It means that organisations may be taking steps to improve their cyber preparedness," says Mick McCluney, Technical Director at Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand. 

"There is still much to be done, as employees remain a source of risk. The first step to managing this is to gain complete and continuous attack surface visibility and control," he says.

The global cyber risk index (CRI) saw an even more significant improvement, moving into positive territory at +0.01. The CRI also found that cyber preparedness improved in Europe and Asia Pacific, but declined slightly in North and Latin America over the past six months. At the same time, threats declined in every region bar Europe.

According to Trend Micro, most Australian organisations are still pessimistic about their prospects over the coming year. The CRI found that most respondents said it was "somewhat to very likely" they'd suffer a breach of customer data (79%) or IP (80%) or a successful cyber attack (84%).

The top four threats listed by respondents in the CRI 2H 2022 include clickjacking, ransomware, cryptomining, and login attacks (credential theft).
Australian respondents also named employees as representing two of their top five infrastructure risks. These were:

  • Negligent insiders 
  • Cloud computing infrastructure and providers 
  • Organisational misalignment and complexity 
  • Data centres 
  • Mobile/remote employees

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute, says, "As the shift to hybrid working gathers momentum, organisations are rightly concerned about the risk posed by negligent employees and the infrastructure used to support remote workers. 

"They will need to focus not only on technology solutions but people and processes to help mitigate these risks," he says.

Based on the global survey results, the greatest areas of concern for businesses related to cyber preparedness are:

People: My organisations IT security leader reports to senior leadership (such as the CEO, COO or CIO).

Process: "My organisation's IT security function doesn't have the ability to unleash countermeasures (such as honeypots) to gain intelligence about the attacker." 

Technology: "My organisation's IT security function does not have the ability to know the physical location of business-critical data assets and applications." 

The six-monthly Cyber Risk Index was compiled by the Ponemon Institute from interviews with 3729 global organisations. The index is based on a numerical scale of -10 to 10, with -10 representing the highest level of risk. It is calculated by subtracting the score for cyber threats from the score for cyber preparedness.

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