Data Breaches: Not Learning from History

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 @ 05:07 PM gHale

Recent data breaches have had little impact on the security controls of retail and financial organizations, new research found.

In addition, of those surveyed, 35 percent said it would take as long as two to three days to detect a breach on their systems, according to a survey by security provider Tripwire. Atomic Research conducted the Tripwire-sponsored survey of 102 financial organizations and 151 retail organizations in the U.K., all of which process card payments.

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According to the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 85 percent of point-of-sale intrusions took weeks to discover and 43 percent of web application attacks took months to discover.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a security standard that outlines minimum security requirements for organizations that handle cardholder information. When asked how important PCI compliance is to their overall security program, 43 percent of respondents said it was the backbone of their security program, and 36 percent said it was half of their security program. However, in order to protect confidential customer data, organizations must apply additional security controls.

“It is shocking to see the high level of confidence exhibited by respondents in the wake of the recent series of high-profile cardholder data breaches,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. “Sixty percent of respondents said they are confident that their security controls are able to prevent the loss of data files, but this confidence flies in the face of recent evidence to the contrary.”

The survey also found 24 percent of those studied already suffered a data breach where Personally Identifiable Information (PII) ended up stolen or accessed by intruders, 36 percent of respondents do not have confidence in their incident response plan, and 51 percent of respondents are only somewhat confident their security controls can detect malicious applications. The study also found 40 percent of respondents said they do not believe that recent high profile cardholder breaches have changed the level of attention executives give to security.

“It is great that recent breaches have increased cyber security awareness and internal dialogue,” said Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer for Tripwire. “However, the improved internal communication may be biased by a false sense of security. For example, 95 percent of respondents said they would be able to detect a breach on critical systems within a week. In reality, nearly all of the recent publicly disclosed breaches have gone on for months without detection.”

“Furthermore, only 60 percent of respondents believe their systems have been hardened enough to prevent the kind of data loss similar to that seen in recent high profile breaches,” Melancon said. “These attitudes seem to indicate a high degree of overconfidence or naiveté among information security practitioners. I believe a number of these organizations may be in for a rude awakening if their systems are targeted by criminals.”

Click here for more information on the survey.

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