Survey shows it takes almost 100 days for financial services organisations to identify advanced cyber threats

Although financial services organisation are well aware that they are the targets of serious and advanced security threats, they struggle to identify attacks once they are inside their network. This is according to a new Ponemon Institute Survey, sponsored by Arbor Networks, a leading provider of DDoS and advanced threat protection solutions for enterprise and service provider networks, whose security products are exclusively distributed by Networks Unlimited in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Known as “dwell” time, the average timespan it takes to identify these attacks is 98 days for financial services organisations. Despite these results, 58 percent of financial services organisations said they are not optimistic about their ability to improve these findings in the coming year.

This is alarming considering the number of attacks targeting their networks – 83 percent experienced more than 50 attacks per month.

“The big takeaway from our research is that more investment is needed in both security operations staff and in security tools, which can help companies efficiently and accurately detect and respond to security incidents,” says Dr Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “The time to detect an advanced threat is far too long; attackers are getting in and staying long enough that the damage caused is often irreparable.”

“It’s time to find a better balance between technology solutions, usability, workflow and the people who use them. As security vendors, we need to help our customers so they can adapt to this new cyber security reality that balances the threats with the people who fight them every day,” adds Bryan Hamman, territory manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Arbor Networks.

In the wake of high profile mega breaches, the Ponemon Institute, surveyed financial services organisations in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to better understand how they are dealing with attacks targeting their organisations.

The survey asked how organisations manage the explosion in advanced threats and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting their infrastructure; how effective (or not) their IT investments are; and how they are adapting incident response procedures and integrating threat intelligence for better visibility, insight and context.

Key findings among the financial services organisation surveyed are:
Advanced threats
· 71 percent view technologies that provide intelligence about networks and traffic as most promising at stopping or minimising advance threats during the seven phases of the Kill Chain;
· 45 percent have implemented incident response procedures; and
· 43 percent have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities.

DDoS attacks
· 55 percent consider DDoS attacks as an advanced threat;
· 48 percent “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” that they are effective in containing DDoS attacks; and
· 45 percent have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities to minimise or contain the impact of DDoS attacks.

Budgets and staffing
· 40 percent of budgets are allocated towards technology; 37 percent to staffing and 20 percent to managed services.

The financial services organisations surveyed included 844 IT and IT security practitioners in North America and in 14 countries in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) – only IT practitioners who are familiar with their companies’ defense against cyber security attacks and have responsibility for directing cyber security activities within the company were selected to take part.