Attack traffic up by 32 percent in 2018

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F-Secure’s research highlights an increase in cyber-attacks but survey data shows companies still struggle with incident detection. While the number of attacks increased drastically over the course of the year many companies still detect only a small fraction of attacks that pass their precentative measures. F-Secure Vice President of Cyber Security Products Research & Development Leszek Tasiemski explains the findigs of the research:

Attack traffic up by 32 percent in 2018

New research from cyber security provider F-Secure reports a significant increase in attack traffic in the latter half of 2018. But while attacks are increasing, it seems many companies are struggling with incident detection.

Attack traffic observed by F-Secure’s network of decoy honeypots in 2018 increased by 32 percent over the previous year, and increased fourfold in the latter half of 2018 compared with the first half of the year.

Recent survey data suggests that many companies may not have the visibility they need to catch attacks that make it past preventative measures like firewalls and endpoint protection. F-Secure’s survey found that 22 percent of companies did not detect a single attack in a 12-month period. 20 percent of respondents detected a single attack during that time frame, and 31 percent detected 2-5 attacks.

For perspective, F-Secure’s detection and response solutions detected 15 threats in a single month at a company with 1300 endpoints, and 7 threats in a single month at a company with 325 endpoints. Roughly one third of F-Secure’s survey respondents indicated that they were using a detection and response solution or service.

None of these trends surprise F-Secure Vice President of Cyber Security Products Research & Development Leszek Tasiemski:

“Today’s threats are completely different from 10 or even 5 years ago. Preventative measures and strategies won’t stop everything anymore, so I’ve no doubt that many of the companies surveyed don’t have a full picture of what’s going on with their security. Many organizations don’t really value security until an incident threatens to cost them a lot of money, so I’m not completely surprised that there are companies detecting zero attacks over the course of a year.”

Additional highlights in F-Secure’s research include:

  • Telnet was the most commonly targeted TCP port, which is likely the result of increasing numbers of compromised Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices searching for additional vulnerable devices.
  • Companies working in finance and ICT detected the most attacks, while organizations in healthcare and manufacturing detected the fewest.
  • The largest source and destination of observed attack traffic were US-based IP addresses.
  • Nginx was the most popular source of web-based attacks.

Tasiemski said:

“We find that companies running detection and response solutions tend to have a better grasp of what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Ideally, the visibility these solutions have will show companies that they’re blocking most of the standard, opportunistic attacks, like the ones our public honeypots usually attract. But these solutions will also pick up what preventative measures like firewalls or endpoint protection miss, which makes detection and response a pretty invaluable part of a healthy security strategy,”