It's hard to fix a problem you don't realize exists. And this is the issue with data breaches today: Often organizations don't know they have been infiltrated until it's too late.
The time frame in which it takes hackers to penetrate a network is shrinking. According to Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, in nearly all (82 percent) of this year's security incidents, the compromise took only minutes to achieve. This is frightening, because not only are hackers getting quicker in their methods, they're also getting stealthier.
Hackers getting better at hiding presence
Just look at some of 2015's and 2016's biggest cyberattacks: You can be breached and not realize it for months because malware is dormant or hackers are bidding their time and slowly exfiltrating information.
"Cyberattacks can go undetected for months."
Plus, with threats such as ransomware, their presence is discovered only when and because the hackers want to be. And the longer malware goes undetected, the more damage it can do. Similarly, the sooner the exploited vulnerabilities are known, the faster businesses can start defending against those threats and forcing cybercriminals to develop a new method of intrusion.
You may think you're not at risk because hackers have their eyes set on bigger targets. And some do. But don't underestimate the appeal of your information - or what cybercriminals are capable of doing with seemingly irrelevant data. Even when someone isn't a primary target - they can still be used as a backdoor to another target or use the system as a soldier in a botnet army to aid in other attacks. For hackers, each credential, device or application is a key to a locked door, exposing a new entryway for advancing their mission and achieving their goal.
Defending against the unknown
Antivirus tools and firewalls are necessary - and they can be helpful, but not for every type of threat, 100 percent of the time. You can have the best, most up-to-date antivirus software and firewalls, yet still not know your network has been infiltrated. The truth is that InfoSec solutions aren't advancing at the rate cyberattacks are.
Take, for example, zero-day vulnerabilities - security holes in software that a hacker can find before the developer has a chance to identify and correct it. Earlier this year, ZDNet reported that Google Project Zero hacker had found a number of security flaws in LastPass that could threaten users' privacy.
The threat prevention landscape of InfoSec can seem like a never-ending process for businesses because they have to worry about covering every possible entry of attack - which is nearly impossible. It requires you to expect the unexpected and detect the undetectable. This is why maintaining a reactive approach to information security is not sustainable or sufficient.
To enhance risk mitigation strategies, it is imperative for companies to be proactive in threat detection and vulnerability patching. That requires experts, who are trained on the latest and most important InfoSec skills. In this increasingly aggressive and ever-evolving world of cyberattacks, what your InfoSec teams don't know can - and likely will - hurt you.