An epidemic of security worst practices

The majority of organizations fail to adhere to simple data protection standards and, in many cases, are fully unaware of what security practices are currently in place, according to Venafi.

The assessment evaluated 420 participant organizations from multiple industries including banking and financial services, high tech, government and manufacturing, through an independent online survey.

It examined where organizations rank in the implementation of 12 IT security and compliance best practices, ranging from how organizations leverage and manage encryption to how often they conduct security awareness and training programs.

The top five best practices, their high failure rates, and recommendations for mitigation include:

Best Practice 1: Perform quarterly security and compliance training.
Failure rate — 77%
Recommendation: Deploy technologies that compensate for the lack of training resources by removing opportunities for human error through automation.

Best Practice 2: Encrypt all cloud data and transaction.
Failure rate — 64%
Recommendation:, Google Apps and other cloud applications do not encrypt by default. Deploy third-party technologies that encrypt cloud data—in motion and at rest—to enhance security and privacy.

Best Practice 3: Use encryption throughout the organizations.
Failure rate — 10%
Recommendation: Although the low failure rate seems encouraging, failure to implement management technologies can turn encryption into a liability by exposing keys that provide unrestricted access to seemingly secure data. Deploy technologies that can manage encryption assets across the enterprise.

Best Practice 4: Have management processes in place to ensure business continuity in the event of a Certificate Authority (CA) compromise.
Failure rate — 55%
Recommendation: Digital certificates rank among the most ubiquitous security technologies. However, as recent CA breaches demonstrate, certificate authorities have been, and will continue to be compromised. Using a CA is half the battle — to further reduce risk, have a plan for immediately replacing all certificates and encryption keys signed by a compromised CA.

Best Practice 5: Rotate SSH keys every 12 months to mitigate risk incurred by the average employee life cycle of 2 years of service.
Failure rate — 82%
Recommendation: SSH keys provide servers and their administrators with root-level access to critical systems and data. A key rotation period that far exceeds the average employee’s lifecycle significantly increases the risk that a former employee or malicious admin can gain inappropriate access. Some enterprises that do not rotate keys might fail to understand their significance. Deploy technologies that simplify and automate key rotation.

The assessment further revealed that almost 100 percent of evaluated organizations had some degree of unquantified or unmanaged risk:

  • When asked if their organizations encrypted data stored in leading public clouds such as Google Apps, and Dropbox, 40 percent said they did not know.
  • When asked how often critical encryption assets such as SSH keys were rotated, 41 percent responded that they did not know.
  • When asked if their organizations were using encryption keys and certificates for data security and system authentication, 10 percent said they were not.

For more detailed results, go here.

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