ISACA: End Users Wrongly Fighting APTs With AV

Editor’s note:  As part of our special editorial partnership, Channelnomics is publishing this recent article from CRN in the UK.
End users are leaning too heavily on traditional security technologies such as firewalls and antivirus software to stave off the growing threat posed by advance persistent threats (APTs).That is the conclusion of IT association ISACA, whose research of 1,500 global IT security professionals suggests more than one in five enterprises have been stung by an APT attack.Known for their sophisticated, stealthy and unrelenting nature, APTs are used by cybercriminals to steal intellectual property. Recent attacks such as Google Aurora and the RSA breach show the method poses a major threat to companies in all industries, not just government, ISACA says.

Some 60 percent of those polled in Q4 by ISACA say they thought it would only be a matter of time before their firm was targeted. And some 94 percent thought APTs represent a credible threat to national security and economic stability.

But despite this, most enterprises are employing ineffective technologies to protect themselves against APTs, ISACA says. Some 95 percent are fending off the threat with antivirus and antimalware, with 93 percent attempting to stop APTs using network perimeter technologies such as firewall. ISACA says this is “concerning,” given that APTs are known to have evaded such controls.

In contrast, mobile security controls — which ISACA said can be quite effective — are used much less frequently.

“While these controls [AV and firewalls] are proficient for defending against traditional attacks, they are probably not as suited for preventing APTs,” the report states. “This is true for a number of reasons: APTs exploit zero-day threats, which are often unknown vulnerabilities, and many APTs enter the enterprise through well-designed spear phishing attacks. This indicates that additional controls — such as network segregation — and perhaps an increased focus on e-mail security and user education could be beneficial.”

ISACA says the survey suggests there’s still a gap in the understanding of what APTs are and how to defend against them.

Although 68 percent of respondents say they are familiar with APTs, 53 percent labor under the misconception that APTs are similar to traditional threats.

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One Response to “ISACA: End Users Wrongly Fighting APTs With AV”

  • craig kensek:

    While a multi layered approach is great for security in general, today’s solutions by themselves aren’t effective against APTs. They aren’t really designed to stop APTs. APTs are stealthy. They want to stay around awhile. They go through a multi stage attack to work their way around a network until they find the devices and/or information they’re after. They focus on specific targets for specific information. They do this over time. Viruses tend to go after a wide audience, for example. There isn’t a simple rule that identifies something as an APT. A cyber criminal will try different techniques until he/she gets through the firewall (without being caught) and then it starts performing its mission, which could last for months or even years. It takes hueristic technology, VMs, correlation, behavioral analysis, sandboxing, looking for anomalies, namely a whole variety of techniques, to identify and stop an ATP. Traditional solutions aren’t up to the task to do all this. They are still essential for the more “normal” threats.

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