Businesses pay a significant premium to recover from a cyber-attack if virtual infrastructure is affected during the incident.
Enterprises pay more than $800 000 on average to recover from a security breach on virtual equipment, which is twice as much compared to incidents involving only physical infrastructure.

This is one of the findings of a special report on the Security of Virtual Infrastructure prepared by Kaspersky Lab, based on a worldwide survey of more than 5 500 companies in 26 countries (including South Africa), conducted in co-operation with B2B International in 2015.

According to the report, SMBs experience the same pattern as enterprises. On average SMBs reported damage of more than $26 000 for an attack on their physical infrastructure. The involvement of virtual infrastructure in a security breach however, drives the cost up closer to $60 000.

The main reason behind the additional cost for a security breach affecting virtual environments is that the majority of businesses use virtual infrastructure for their most important operations – and 62% of companies that have already embraced virtualisation platforms are likely to entrust them with their most critical business processes.

While an attack on physical nodes leads to the temporary loss of access to business critical information in 36% of incidents reported, this rises to 66% when a breach affects virtual servers and desktops. Attacks affecting virtual environments also more frequently require additional budget on third-party expertise. Businesses have to request help not only from IT consultants, but also lawyers, risk management experts and others.

The complexity of security measures in a virtual environment, as well as an incorrect perception of the threat landscape are two additional elements that increase the cost of recovery in the virtual environment. Kaspersky Lab’s report shows that 42% of businesses believe that security risks in virtual environments are significantly lower than in “physical” environments, and 45% of companies reporting that security management in virtual environments is perceived as a problem. Furthermore, only 27% of businesses have deployed a security solution, specifically designed for the virtual environment.

“Businesses expect that going virtual will drive down their IT spend and streamline their infrastructure,” says Matvey Voytov, corporate products group manager at Kaspersky Lab.

“However, the survey results show us that if there is not enough attention paid to security matters in the virtual environment, expenses may exceed the benefit. Our view is that businesses should use customised, virtual-aware security solutions with centralised management and reporting. The solution should have a low impact on resources, a high detection rate and the ability to spot suspicious activity right away.”