McAfee Report Implies We’re Still Focused Externally

BeyondTrust, April 12th, 2011

You may have already seen the results of a 1,000+ person survey conducted recently by McAfee and wrapped up in a crisp report. They estimate that businesses have lost more than $1 trillion in 2008 as a result of data leaks. With the help of SAIC and international research firm Vanson Bourrne, the company has added some meaty authority to what would otherwise be seen as a vendor-biased report.

According to the report, the most popular methods of protecting sensitive data are anti-virus, firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems, which are implemented by more than four in five organizations. Perhaps followed by deep packet inspection, which was reported by two-thirds of respondents.  It figures that all of these are outward-facing security mechanisms primarily intended to prevent malicious hackers, viruses and worms. Therein lies the problem.

Surveys from the CSI/FBI research team also show that most organizations believe the majority of their security risks are from external threats, yet actual analysis on of real breaches shows that internal threats outweigh external ones.  This last RSA I remember one of our execs was telling a reporter that people are finally realizing that their risks are from within. This was also a big story during the recession, where many organizations were bracing themselves for massive layoffs that were creating armies of angry, unemployed, ex-employees. Before the recession reports like those from the Computer Security Institute were trying to change our minds to realize where our focus should be – demonstrating the internal problem.  Therein lies the value of a least privilege solution to help prevent good people (insiders) from doing bad things (steal or harm data).

And yet, after all that, I still feel like the industry hasn’t caught on. What else could anyone possibly do to erase this perspective that the vast majority of risk comes from over glorified hackers?