The Changing Security Threat Landscape

Last week Symantec issued their latest Internet Security Threat Report. These six-monthly reports have become essential reading for all security practitioners. The latest 30 page report (it could do with a good précis) is packed with useful, though largely unsurprising, facts.

The report confirms that the security threat landscape is becoming characterized by attacks that are more professional and increasingly commercial. These attacks are often carried out in multiple stages, using a low-profile compromise to create a beachhead from which subsequent attacks can be launched. Multiple methods of attack are likely to be used and trusted entities will be exploited. Defending against such attacks is not easy. They are difficult to detect and even harder to stop. And in an age when zero-day vulnerabilities are a reality, it’s disturbing to read that some big vendors still have patch development times measured in hundreds of days.

The consequence of this trend is that organisations need to adopt a more intelligence-led approach to security. Identity valuable assets and critical services. Understand the enemy. Think like an attacker. And then implement specific controls to identify and deflect such attacks. It’s no longer good enough to apply a basic level of commodity-level security across your estate. That approach might have been effective in the past. But today’s attackers don’t just focus on soft targets. And the sophistication of their threat has now surpassed the defensive capabilities of most baseline security measures.