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According to a survey of nearly 4,000 IT managers across 27 countries targeted attacks are on the rise year-over-year. The survey also identified the business sectors most likely to be targeted.
Globally, 18% of organizations in the Government & Defense sector reported at least one targeted attack within the past 12 months. The rate of targeted attacks reported within the Government & Defense sector was the highest rate reported in this year’s survey, a notable increase from the global average of 12% reported across all business sectors.
When looking at data across all business sectors, it’s also clear that targeted attacks are not limited to the Government & Defense industry. Other business segments have felt the brunt of targeted attacks at a higher-than-average rate, including the Telecommunications industry where 17% of businesses reported targeted attacks, and the Financial Services and Transportation & Logistics sectors, both of which reported targeted attacks within the last 12 months at a rate of 16%.
The survey responses show the overall number of targeted attacks to be increasing as well. The 12% of all businesses reporting a targeted attack in 2013 has risen from the 9% average reported in 2013 and 2012.
Conducted in partnership with B2B International, these results have been published in Kaspersky Lab’s 2014 IT Security Risks summary report, which outlines the types of internal and external security risks most often encountered by businesses across a variety of industries, along with the costs associated with an IT security incident, the types of data most lost as a result of these attacks, and more.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 94% of companies reportedly encountered at least one externally-sourced data security incident within the past 12 months, including phishing attacks, DDoS attacks, and theft of mobile devices. In 28% of these instances, business reported the loss of sensitive business data.
The increase in the prevalence of targeted attacks, both in volume and in types of businesses being targeted, comes at a time when high-profile targeted attacks are being uncovered at an alarming pace. In September 2013, Kaspersky Lab released its analysis of the Icefog targeted attack campaign, a multi-year campaign which focused on military, telecommunications, shipping and research organizations in South Korea and Japan. In February 2014 the company reported the discovery of The Mask cyber-espionage campaign, which included victims in 31 countries around the world, including governments and government-related agencies.
While the overall amount of data stolen from targeted attacks is lower than the losses that result from general malware attacks, it must be noted that general malware attacks themselves are much more common (an average of 61% of businesses reported malware attacks compared to an average of 12% reported targeted attacks). However, the value of the data stolen from a targeted attack is much more likely to be highly valuable to the attackers, and the loss of this highly-sensitive data (future product plans, company financial statements, etc.) would cause more long-term damage to a company’s business outlook.
A “targeted attack” typically consists of several malicious components that operate in tandem to bypass an organization’s security measures, infect machines, and steal sensitive data. These attacks can implement unique modifications to common malware, or exploit specific vulnerabilities in targeted organizations.