Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content and threat management solutions, presents the results of a study conducted by its Global Emergency Response Team – a consulting service for the company’s corporate users.
The data that was accumulated while serving corporate customers highlights the main IT security policy mistakes that can put an organisation at risk.
“In the past, our corporate support team received complaints unrelated to product functionality. For example, some customers complained that our products could not remove all the viruses from a network," says Alexey Polyakov, head of the Global Emergency Response Team at Kaspersky Lab.
"After some quick analysis we discovered that the products did in fact successfully detect and remove malware, but this malware kept coming back – over and over again. So over the last 12 months, by actively engaging with our corporate users, we have noticed that the majority of virus-related incidents occur due to underestimated design issues or unnoticed weaknesses in corporate security policies.”
Why the corporate network may be vulnerable
The biggest mistake is to ignore network share access rights – responsible for 35% of incidents. In such a case, there might be open sharing with access rights configured as “full access” to everyone on an internal file server or end-user work desktop, such as a shared public document workspace where all documents are stored.
Sooner or later, this can become a prominent source of malware redistribution throughout the organisation.
Modern malware takes advantage of existing vulnerabilities. A network with just a single missing patch can be put at serious risk. And this is a common issue seen mostly in small to medium organisations, with end-users numbering less than 500. These organisations either do not have enough expertise or ignore patching completely. As such, this mistake is responsible for 25% of incidents.
Use of multiple vendor anti-malware solutions (causing 15% of incidents) may lead to a situation where it is hard to mitigate malware attacks. This may occur if one of the vendors does not respond fast enough to attacks.
Delays in responses may run to days, weeks or even months. During this time the solution of another vendor would detect and remove malware, but only in its part of the network – and malware would attack it from the unprotected side.
“From our experience, we see that security admin spends a lot of time working with multiple vendors’ support services in finding and fixing a problem,” says Polyakov.
A partially protected environment (in 15% of incidents) is where an anti-malware solution is installed on part of the network, leaving other resources unprotected.
Firmware vulnerability (5% of incidents) may be exploited by attackers if security admin forget to monitor hardware devices, such as routers, firewalls and other network appliances, to see if they need patching.
Another relatively infrequent mistake (also 5% of incidents) is to believe that software downloaded from the Web is always perfectly sound software.