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Security professionals are considering black hat activity - report

13 Aug 2018

Cybercrime incidents are escalating and security remediation costs are skyrocketing, according to a report released by Malware prevention and remediation solution Malwarebytes.

The report, White Hat, Black Hat and the Emergence of the Gray Hat; The True Costs of Cybercrime, was conducted by Osterman Research.

The study polled 900 senior IT decision-makers and IT security professionals in Australia, Germany, the US, UK, and Singapore about the impact of cybercrime on their bottom line, and also looks at all sides of IT security costs from budget and remediation, to hiring, recruiting and retention.

Top findings include:

  • US-based businesses experienced a higher number of serious security events such as ransomware and intentional insider breaches compared to other countries surveyed – an average of 1.8 incidents in 2017.  
  • Based on security budget per employee responses, the average 2,500 employee company in the US will spend more than $1.8 million dollars on security costs. That number is expected to increase to more than $2 million in 2018 - nearly twice the average cost of all global responses (more than $1 million in 2018).  
  • Remediating major security incidents is extremely expensive: the average global expenditure for remediating just a single event is approximately $290,000 for a 2,500-employee organization. In the US, the average cost escalates to $429,000.  
  • Phishing was the most common cause of major incidents globally (44%) with ransomware (26%) and spear phishing (20%) also in the top five. While the delivery tactics are familiar, the malware has grown increasingly complex and sophisticated.

Midsize companies (500-999 employees) are getting squeezed by massive increases in security incidents and exploding security budgets but have fewer employees and smaller budgets:

  • To protect against a high volume of malicious attacks, mid-sized companies’ security budgets increased by 36%.  
  • Mid-market businesses had the highest percentage of security budget increases from 2017 to 2018 (36.32% increase for midsize companies; 20.46% increase for large companies; 8.5% increase in budget for small companies) to counter the significantly higher levels of adware, accidental insider data breaches and intentional insider data breaches and even nation-state attacks.  
  • Mid-sized companies spent 19% of their security budget remediating compromises.  Fewer staff on-hand in mid-sized companies’ Security Operations Centers (SOCs) to handle the volume of attacks resulted in the highest percentage of security budget spent on remediating attacks (18.62% of budget spent on remediating compromises) compared with both large (11.3% of budget spent on remediating compromises) and smaller (13.97% of budget spent on remediating compromises) enterprises.  
  • 49% of global mid-market professionals were most likely to suggest that it's easy to get into cybercrime without getting caught.

Security professionals are turning “Gray Hat”

Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski says, “The current skills shortage combined with a steady stream of attacks against antiquated endpoint protection methods continues to drive up costs for today’s businesses, with a seemingly larger hit to security departments of mid-market enterprises.”

“On top of this, we are seeing more instances of the malicious insider causing damage to company productivity, revenue, IP and reputation.

“We need to level up the need for proper security financing to the executive and board level,” he adds.

“This also means updating endpoint security solutions and hiring and rewarding the best and brightest security professionals who manage endpoint protection, detection and remediation solutions.”

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