Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:08

Cyber threats up, but no increase in ransomware: ISACA Featured

Cyber threats up, but no increase in ransomware: ISACA Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Ransomware attacks are significantly declining despite an increase in cyber attacks generally, according to the global IT association ISACA.

In its State of Cybersecurity 2018 research study just released, ISACA reveals that last year 62% of respondents experienced a ransomware attack, compared to 45% this year – a 17-point drop.

According to ISACA, the drop in ransomware attacks is likely because organisations are significantly better prepared after last year’s WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, with 82% of respondents saying that their enterprises now have ransomware strategies in place. In addition, 78% said they have a formal process in place – up 25 points from last year.

“While these findings are positive, the data show that ransomware attacks may have been displaced by cryptocurrency mining, which is becoming more frequent,” said ISACA.

“Cryptocurrency mining malware can operate without direct access to the file system, making them harder to detect—and as the prices of cryptocurrencies increase, the economics of cryptocurrency mining malware becomes better for the attacker.

“Additionally, the three most common attack vectors remain unchanged from last year – phishing, malware and social engineering.”

The research also shows that 50% of the 2366 security leaders surveyed have seen an increase in cyber attack volumes relative to last year and, in addition, 80% of respondents said they are likely, or very likely, to be attacked this year – a statistic that ISACA says remains unchanged from last year’s study.

According to ISACA, active defence strategies are highly effective, but underutilised.

The research also found that nearly 4 out of 10 respondents (39%) are not at all familiar or only slightly familiar with active defence strategies (e.g., honeypots and sinkholes), and of those who are familiar with active defence strategies, just over half are actually using them.

“This is a missed opportunity for security leaders and their organisations,” said Frank Downs, director of cyber security at ISACA.

“ISACA’s research indicates that active defence strategies are one of the most effective countermeasures to cyber attacks. A full 87% of those who use them indicate that they were successful.”

 The ISACA report suggests enterprises must be better prepared with focused attention on several areas, and makes several recommendations, including:

  • Investing in talent – With attacks still on the rise, enterprises must continue to invest in finding, retaining and training skilled cyber security professionals.
  • Exploring further automation benefits – Enterprises should consider automation-driven strategies and tools for detection and to support recovery and response efforts.
  • Ensuring appropriate investment in security controls – With attack vectors (phishing, malware and social engineering) minimally changing, existing control types are still valid and useful. Enterprise investment and attention to security controls should increase in line with the frequency of these attack vectors.
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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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