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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cyberespionage a growing threat for enterprises, report finds

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By this point, most firms are aware of the importance of data protection. If a company cannot ensure the integrity of its sensitive information, it will never be able to achieve its full potential. Among other consequences, the loss of corporate data can greatly undermine a company's ability to compete, as rivals may gain access to trade secrets and other invaluable intellectual property. From product development plans to marketing strategies, any sensitive internal information can turn into a liability if it is lost, stolen or accessed by unauthorized individuals or groups.

While organizations are becoming more conscious of the need to protect their data, cybercriminals are also increasing and improving their efforts to steal this information for nefarious purposes. And unfortunately, there is reason to believe that cyberattackers' tools and strategies are frequently outpacing companies' reaction times.

As evidence of this trend, the recent Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report found that of the thousands of security incidents and hundreds of confirmed data breaches which the organization tracked in 2012, approximately one-fifth were the direct result of cyberespionage.

Data invaders
The Verizon report compiled statistics from more than 47,000 security incidents which led to 621 confirmed data breaches. In these events, more than 44 million records were compromised.

The study found that retailers were the most frequently victimized type of organization, with cyberattackers typically striking these organizations with financial motives. Manufacturing firms were the second most commonly attacked sector, with the bulk of these efforts classifying as espionage. Computer and engineering firms and professional service industries were also frequent targets of cyberespionage, according to the report.

Jay Jacobs, a senior analyst with the Verizon RISK team, noted that one of the most surprising findings was cyberattackers' willingness to target a wide range of organizations.

"When we thought of espionage, we thought of big companies and the large amount of intellectual property they have, but there were many small organizations targeted with the exact same tactics," said Jacobs.

The study found that the overwhelming majority of tracked data breaches resulting from cyberespionage had their roots in Chinese hacker groups. However, Jacobs emphasized that this did not mean that cyberespionage attacks only come from China. He asserted that this was a random outcome of the particular sample used, and that the more important takeaway is the number and diversity of attack strategies cybercriminals are now utilizing to steal sensitive corporate data.

Protection tools
Considering the growing risk of cyberespionage and data breaches in general, it is imperative for businesses to invest in tools that can effectively protect their intellectual property and other sensitive information. To this end, firms should look for high-grade managed file transfer (MFT) solutions. A secure MFT solution should be able to guarantee data integrity by leveraging encryption and other strategies, all without sacrificing productivity or speed.