The threat landscape in 2014: why businesses are at risk

Kaspersky Lab published a survey entitled “The threat landscape: A practical guide from the Kaspersky Lab experts“, dedicated to the current cybersecurity situation and main trends in this field. As we have pointed out in a previous post, massive epidemics are being replaced with targeted attacks, and businesses are becoming the primary target for the cybercriminals.

Generally speaking, the threat landscape is still mostly dominated by attacks targeted at random victims whose computers are vulnerable to particular infections. But targeted attacks are also quite prominent, and there is every reason to expect an increase in their happenings.

“The aim [of targeted attacks] is to get a foothold in a target company, steal corporate data or damage a company’s reputation. We are also now in an era when a malicious code can be used as a cyberweapon. While an organization may not be in the direct firing line, it could suffer “collateral damage” if it isn’t adequately protected.

It’s easy to read the headlines in the media and draw the conclusion that targeted attacks are a problem only for large organizations. However, any organization can become a victim. All organizations hold data that could be of value to cybercriminals; and they can also be used as a “stepping-stone to reach other companies”, the survey says.

This is why businesses have become so attractive to cybercriminals: attackers are now interested in everything that can be monetized. Businesses operate using technologies, intellectual property, finances and personal data.

Competitors, or so-called “unfriendly states”, desire technology and intellectual property. Personal data is valuable since it can be used to steal an individual’s money, so such data is a hot commodity on the black market for the same reason.

Even medium-sized companies possess something valuable. At the same time, small companies often assume that no one pays attention to them, and they do not care much about protecting their infrastructure, data and finance. Attackers are well aware of this and use it.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s survey, now businesses are generally quite aware of cybercrime threats. The opinions of IT specialists on the threat landscape are provided in the diagram below.

CONCERN

The pattern is quite predictable. System administrators take delicate care of antivirus databases, keeping them up to date and defending IT perimeters from remote access and hacking attempts. The companies are least concerned with organizing a centralized control of used applications, installing software updates and training their employees.

fter reading the headlines, you may think that only larger entities are subject to targeted attacks. However, any organization can become a victim as all organizations hold data that could be of value to cybercriminals.

At the same time, the most real threats, like exploits, phishing and attacks (e.g., drive-by attacks), are associated with exploiting vulnerabilities in legitimate software as well as with the fact that employees can seldom recognize threats in time just because they do not know much or anything at all about them. This adds to security problems, which, like many others, are easier solved in advance rather than after the damage has been done.

See more details about threats to businesses and vulnerabilities of companies in Kaspersky Lab’s survey “The Threat Landscape“.

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