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Concern For Zero-Day Exploits

Operation Aurora, the massive cyberassault on Google, Adobe, Juniper, Rackspace and others, proved that intellectual property is as much a target as credit-card data and other customer info, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that more than 90% of the 1,002 business technology and security professionals who responded to our survey expressed concern that such an exploit could affect their organizations. Nearly one-third are “very concerned” that it could happen to them.

As we watched the news and read the coverage in both technical and mainstream media outlets, we saw people finally waking up. CISOs everywhere got copies of the venerable, “Could this happen to us?” email from management and had to answer questions about how they could hope to fend off these attacks if Google, which employs hundreds of security pros, had to withdraw from the largest emerging market and leave millions on the table.

Security researchers group these attacks under the category of advanced persistent threat, or APT. We see APT as shorthand for a targeted assault, where the attacker’s skill level and resources are advanced. When they get in, often via social engineering, they seek to stay undetected and tunnel deeper into the network, then quietly export valuable data. Cleaning up the mess is an expensive nightmare. As we said, government entities have been using this terminology for some time, but this was the first major announcement of a successful zero-day attack being conducted against a private company. The fact is, after several years of both our budgets and our data being under siege, few organizations have the means to fight off world-class attackers. But putting your head in the sand is a bad plan, as is throwing up your hands and blaming upper management. As we’ve said before, in every security survey we deploy, a healthy percentage of commenters say they long for a major breach to wake business leaders up.
Learn more about InformationWeek Analytics’ Global Threat, Local Pain: 2010 Strategic Security Survey.

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