Application Privilege Management Highlighted as an Antivirus Alternative.

IT departments' perceptions are far removed from reality when it comes to IT security, according to new comparison research from endpoint security firm Avecto.

Avecto compared its recent research into perceptions of endpoint defense strategies, carried out with the Ponemon Institute, to the Australian Department of Defense's (ADoD) Top 35 Mitigation Strategies report, which ranks security solutions based on their effectiveness.

The ADoD study is based on real world attacks, including responding to serious cyber intrusions, vulnerability assessments and penetration testing for Australian government agencies.

The findings show a substantial difference between the strategies that IT departments believe to be effective, and those which actually measure up in practice.

Andrew Avanessian, VP of Global Professional Services at Avecto said: "When it comes to security strategies, the perceptions of IT departments are wide of the mark. We want to help raise awareness within the security market to help decision makers prioritize the strategies that are truly the most effective."

The following table compares the results of the two studies:

Security strategy Perception rating (Avecto study) Effectiveness rating (ADoD study)
Intrusion prevention 1st 8th
Web content filtering 2nd 18th
Email content filtering 3rd 17th
Multi-factor authentication 4th 11th
Operating system patching 5th 3rd
Application whitelisting 6th 1st
Perimeter firewalls 7th 12th
Application patching 8th 2nd
Up-to-date antivirus software 9th 30th
Data loss prevention solution 10th 26th
Minimizing admin privileges 11th 4th

Andrew continued: "There is a serious disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to IT security. Essentially, this means that security budgets are not being utilized on those strategies that will have the biggest impact."

"For instance, antivirus software is only rated as the 30th most effective strategy, yet for IT departments it's seen as essential. Minimizing admin privileges on the other hand doesn't make the top 10, yet is ranked as the fourth most effective in the ADoD study."

"It seems that IT professionals are opting for centrally managed technologies, perhaps because they are deemed easier to implement. There is a misconception that these top four strategies are difficult to achieve, when in reality, it doesn't need to be that way."

The comparison of the two studies is a timely reminder for CIOs and IT managers to think carefully about their security spend, with traditional strategies often failing to defend against newer threats such social engineering and APTs.

Andrew concluded: "In order to defend against advanced threats you need to have a defense in depth approach. Antivirus software was fine fifteen years ago, but with malware evolving at an incredible pace it's just not effective enough. With security budgets under constant scrutiny, every penny needs to be justified."