Check Point research reveals a rise in zero-day attacks on mobile devices, and networks are the biggest threats for today’s enterprises

Check Point’s research of over 16,000 security gateways globally shows targeted attacks and ‘hacktivism’ reached an all-time high in 2014

June 26, 2015

The ThreatCloud World Cyber Threat Map by Check Point

Check Point Software Technologies, the largest pure-play security vendor globally, has issued its 2015 Security Report, the company’s third annual report revealing the major security threats that impacted organisations across the world.

The 2015 Security Report provides insight into the degree of infiltration and sophistication of new threats in the enterprise. Mobility, virtualisation and other technologies have changed the way we do business.

While organisations have adopted these tools to enhance productivity, they often forget about the security implications that arise when they lack the proper security implementations.

The Check Point 2015 Security Report reveals the prevalence and growth of threats on enterprise networks, through information obtained over the course of 2014.

This report is based on collaborative research and in-depth analysis of over 1,300 organisations (including 39 South African organisations), over 300,000 hours of monitored network traffic, from more than 16,000 threat prevention gateways and 1 million smartphones.

Key findings include:

Known and Unknown Malware Increased Exponentially

Malware rose at alarming rates in 2014. This year’s report revealed that 106 unknown malware hit an organisation every hour: 48 times more than the 2.2 downloads per hour reported in 2013.

Unknown malware will continue to threaten the enterprise in the future.

Even worse than unknown malware is zero-day malware, which is effectively built from scratch to exploit software vulnerabilities, of which vendors aren’t yet even aware.

Cybercriminals are also continuing to use bots to amplify and accelerate the spread of malware.

83 percent of organisations studied were infected with bots in 2014, allowing constant communication and data sharing between these bots and their command and control servers.

Mobile Devices are a Company’s Biggest Vulnerability

Mobile devices are the weak links in the security chain, providing easier direct access to more valuable organisational assets than any other intrusion point.

Check Point research found that for an organisation with more than 2,000 devices on its network, there’s a 50 percent chance that there are at least 6 infected or targeted mobile devices on their network.

72 percent of IT providers agreed that their top mobile security challenge is securing corporate information, and 67 percent said their second biggest challenge is managing personal devices storing both corporate and personal data.

This correlates with findings of a security survey of South African organisations, conducted by Check Point and ITWeb earlier this year.

Even though 70 percent of respondents allow personal devices to connect to their networks, and 80 percent cited lost or stolen information as the greatest mobile security concern, 29 percent felt that adequate steps to decrease mobile security incidents were not being taken within their organisations.

Corporate data is at risk, and being made aware of these risks is critical to taking the proper steps to secure mobile devices.

Using Risky Applications Comes at a High Price

Corporations frequently rely on applications to help their business be more organised and streamlined.

However, these applications become vulnerable points of entry for businesses. Some applications, such as file sharing, are obviously risky.

The rise of ‘shadow IT’, applications that aren’t sponsored or supported by the central IT organisation has led to even riskier business.

Research revealed that 96 percent of organisations studied used at least one high-risk application in 2014, a 10-point increase from the previous year.

Check Point research also unveiled that 12.7 high-risk application events happen every hour.

That creates many opportunities for cybercriminals to access the corporate network – that is risky business.

Data Loss is Top of Mind

Cybercriminals are not the only threat to the integrity and security of corporate data.

Just as quickly as a hacker could penetrate a network, in-network actions can also easily result in data loss.

Check Point found that 81 percent of the organisations analysed suffered a data loss incident, up 41 percent from 2013.

Data can unknowingly leak out of any organisation for a variety of reasons, most of those tied to current and past employee actions.

While most security strategies focus on protecting data from hackers coming in, it is equally important to protect data from the inside out.

Check Point analysis

“When it comes to cyber security, we can no longer segment threats on a country-by-country basis,” said Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa.

“The same threats that cripple multinational organisations in America can take down an SME in South Africa – malware does not discriminate when it comes to organisation size or territory.

“The Internet has made the world a very small place, and new malware can infect millions of devices all over the world in minutes.

“Today’s cybercriminals are sophisticated and ruthless: they prey on the weaknesses in a network, approaching any security layer as an open invitation to try to hack it.

“In order to protect themselves against attacks, security professionals and organisations alike must understand the nature of the latest exploits and how their networks are potentially impacted.

“Only by arming themselves with a combination of knowledge and strong security solutions can organisations truly protect themselves against these evolving threats.

“By making security a critical asset to your business, you can turn security into an enabler, and in doing so, you’re able to unlock innovation and foster an environment for high performance and productivity.”