Threat Intelligence

3/12/2018
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Asia's Security Leaders Feel Underprepared for Future Threats: Report

A new study highlights major concerns of cybersecurity leaders in Asia, where most fear critical infrastructure attacks, advanced threats, and social engineering.

Security professionals in Asia expect major breaches of critical infrastructure, and of their own organizations, to occur within the next two years, according to a study released today.

The study, Cyber Risk in Asia, is being published by Black Hat Asia, one of the region's top cybersecurity conferences. This year's event will take place Mar. 20-23 in Singapore.

More than two-thirds (67%) of cybersecurity professionals surveyed for the study said they believe a major, successful cyberattack affecting multiple Asian countries will likely occur within the next two years. Some 72% said they believe they will have to respond to a major breach of their own organizations within the next 12 months.

A chief reason for these concerns is cyber activity coming from large nation-states. Some 57% of the survey respondents said they believe recent actions by Russia, China, and North Korea have made their enterprise data less secure. Several exploits affecting critical infrastructure, including Operation PZChao, have already been detected, the report notes.

A lack of resources is also contributing to poor confidence among Asian cybersecurity professionals, the study indicates. Fifty-eight percent of respondents do not feel they have enough staff to respond to the threats they believe they will face in the coming year. Fifty-seven percent said they have insufficient budget; 69% feel they do not have enough training to perform the job functions required of them.

The Black Hat Asia survey responses were remarkably similar to those from similar surveys conducted among attendees of Black Hat USA and Black Hat Europe in 2017. In all three studies, a majority of security professionals said they believe a major critical infrastructure breach will occur in their regions within the next two years, and a major breach of their own organization will occur even sooner.

A majority of the respondents to the Black Hat Asia study (56%) said they are most concerned about sophisticated attacks specifically targeting their organization. Social engineering attacks were the second-greatest concern, followed by polymorphic malware.

Like their counterparts in Europe and the United States, however, Asian security professionals said they are not able to focus their resources on the threats they most fear. Compliance-related initiatives are the second-greatest consumer of manpower and budget among the Black Hat Asia survey respondents, often detracting from the resources available to respond to imminent threats. Targeted attacks (31%) and phishing and social engineering threats (21%) are other top consumers of security budgets.

End users were cited as the weakest link in enterprise defenses, as cited by 38% of Black Hat Asia survey respondents. These insiders may also represent the greatest threat: nearly a third (31%) of Asian security professionals say the adversaries they fear most are those with strong knowledge of their organization and trusted access to enterprise systems and data.

"Humans are not the only cause for IT professionals' concern," the study continues. "Fifteen percent of the respondents in the Black Hat Asia survey said their biggest weakness stemmed from a lack of planning and a tendency within their organizations to treat IT as a tactical, fire-fighting mission."

Data from the Black Hat Asia study, as well as the Black Hat studies in Europe and the United States, will be presented at the Black Hat Asia conference on Mar. 22.

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Black Hat Asia returns to Singapore with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

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