Organisations in the UK – including charities – are being targeted by phishing attacks more than those in other countries, research has revealed.
As well as highlighting the risk from spear phishing attacks, Symantec’s latest annual Internet Security Threat Report said that the UK is the second most targeted for social media scams too, highlighting the need for effective security measures to be in place.
What’s more, Symantec’s figures show that the UK ranks number three both in Europe and worldwide as a source of attacks.
Half a billion records stolen
Data breaches continue to have an impact on organisations and those targeted for attack will, on average, be targeted three more times within the year, the research shows. In 2015 a total of 429 million identities were exposed, while the number of companies that chose not to report the number of records lost jumped by 85 per cent. A conservative estimate by Symantec of those unreported breaches pushes the real number of records lost to more than half a billion.
“The increasing number of companies choosing to hold back critical details after a breach is a disturbing trend,” said Kevin Haley, director, Symantec Security Response. “Transparency is critical to security. By hiding the full impact of an attack, it becomes more difficult to assess the risk and improve your security posture to prevent future attacks.”
Ransomware also continued to evolve in 2015, with the more damaging style of crypto-ransomware attacks growing by 35 per cent. This more aggressive crypto-ransomware attack encrypts all of a victim’s digital content and holds it hostage until a ransom is paid. This year, ransomware spread beyond PCs to smartphones, Mac and Linux systems, with the UK suffering up to 2,215 attacks per day, the third highest in the world. With attackers increasingly seeking any network-connected device that could be held hostage for profit, indicating that the enterprise is the next target.
As attackers evolve, there are many steps businesses and consumers can take to protect themselves. As a starting point, Symantec recommends the following best practices:
- Don’t get caught flat-footed: Use advanced threat and adversary intelligence solutions to help you find indicators of compromise and respond faster to incidents.
- Employ a strong security posture: Implement multi-layered endpoint security, network security, encryption, strong authentication and reputation-based technologies. Partner with a managed security service provider to extend your IT team.
- Prepare for the worst: Incident management ensures your security framework is optimised, measureable and repeatable, and that lessons learned improve your security posture. Consider adding a retainer with a third-party expert to help manage crises.
- Provide ongoing education and training: Establish simulation-based training for all employees as well guidelines and procedures for protecting sensitive data on personal and corporate devices. Regularly assess internal investigation teams—and run practice drills—to ensure you have the skills necessary to effectively combat cyber threats.
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