Endpoint Security Makes Quantum Shift: Part I

Posted by Michael Davis   |   February 24, 2015

Rest in peace, antivirus tools. You had a good run for a security technol­ogy — 1987 to 2014.antivirus software

In case you missed it, in May, Sy­mantec called time of death for antivirus software. It did so not because AV technologies suddenly became less effective. Rather, the company finally acknowledged that it’s not a matter of if, but when, an orga­nization will be targeted and that antivirus products will stop only some attacks. Plenty of security bloggers and pundits reacted with glee, given that antivirus software reportedly represents 40% of Symantec’s revenue.

But it’s not quite that simple. Eugene Kasper­sky at the Kaspersky CyberSecurity Summit summed up the reality, likening antivirus soft­ware to a seat belt — you need it, but it’s not the most important part of your protection efforts.

So when it comes to endpoint security in 2014 and beyond, what is most important? A willingness to aggressively shake up your strategy.

The endpoint is where the security war is now being waged; it has topped our list of breach vectors in the last two Information­Week Strategic Security Surveys. Among the 2014 Strategic Security Survey respondents whose orgs were successfully attacked within the past year, 76% had at least one malware-driven breach, up from 69% in 2013, and 59% had at least one phishing-based breach. A new approach is required. To extend Kaspersky’s analogy, this is IT security’s “air­bag” moment. Air bags significantly reduce the risk of death in serious crashes, but while they were invented in 1952, they weren’t op­erationally feasible in automobiles until the 1970s and not widely deployed until much later. The catalyst? The invention of the elec­tronic data recorder, which tracks activity to determine when to deploy an airbag. Airbag technology allowed us to shift from build­ing cars to withstand impact (big and lots of steel) to building cars to reduce the effects of an impact on occupants — a significant change that has led to massive increases in both safety and efficiency.

To cope with the changing threat landscape, you need a rich mix of tools and processes, a big dose of vigilance — and to avoid getting discouraged. So many Fortune 500 compa­nies, government agencies, and healthcare orgs have been in the news that we’re seeing “breach fatigue,” leading to some level of dis­heartenment. We asked the 536 2014 Security Survey respondents, all from organizations with 100 or more employees, what security technol­ogies they would retain if they could pick only three. Our goal was to find out which products earn their keep. The results weren’t encourag­ing. While 89% have endpoint protection de­ployed, only 44% would hang on to these prod­ucts. Most would jettison other widely used technologies, too, including patch and identity management. 

As we discuss in the Strategic Security re­port, it’s apparent that companies are buying products they know won’t entirely solve their problems.

It’s an issue, because no one has unlimited money for security. Just 37% of respondents saw increases in spending, even as the num­ber of attacks skyrockets; 59% make do with 10% or less of the overall IT budget. Most — 75% of more than 400 respondents to our 2015 Consumerization of IT Survey — say the No. 1 barrier to allowing end-users to connect their personal equipment to the organiza­tion’s network is fear that the devices are in­fected with malware.

Guess what? IT’s inability to afford new se­curity products isn’t going to stop the con­sumerization wave. So we’d better start think­ing creatively. 

Stayed tuned for the next post in this four-part blog series where I examine the need for shifting our focus to protecting the endpoint. 

Topics: endpoint security

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