68% of organizations were victims of endpoint attacks in 2019

Organizations are not making progress in reducing their endpoint security risk, especially against new and unknown threats, a Ponemon Institute study reveals.

endpoint security risk

68% IT security professionals say their company experienced one or more endpoint attacks that compromised data assets or IT infrastructure in 2019, an increase from 54% of respondents in 2017.

Bottom-line business damage

Of those incidents that were successful, researchers say that 80% were new or unknown, they define them as “zero-day attacks.” These attacks either involved the exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities or the use of new malware variants that signature-based, detection solutions do not recognize.

These attacks are also inflicting more bottom-line business damage. The study found that the average cost per endpoint breach increased to $9M in 2019, up more than $2M since 2018.

“Corporate endpoint breaches are skyrocketing and the economic impact of each attack is also growing due to sophisticated actors bypassing enterprise antivirus solutions,” said Larry Ponemon, Chairman of Ponemon Institute.

“Over half of cybersecurity professionals say their organizations are ineffective at thwarting major threats today because their endpoint security solutions are not effective at detecting advanced attacks.”

The third annual study surveyed 671 IT security professionals responsible for managing and reducing their organization’s endpoint security risk.

Increasing vulnerability during patch gaps

In addition to expressing concern over zero-day threats, respondents noted increasing vulnerability during patch gaps. In fact, 40% of companies say it’s taking longer to patch, with an average patch gap of 97 days due to the number of patches and their complexity.

Patch exploits will continue to be a hot-button issue in 2020 as the last remaining organizations upgrade to Windows 10 on the heels of Windows 7 end of life, and patch frequency increases.

An extra layer of security added to antivirus solutions

The shift to Windows 10 is also ushering in new enterprise security strategies that can be effective in thwarting more advanced threats. With Windows Defender AV built into the Windows 10 operating system, 80% of organizations report using or planning to use Defender AV for savings over their legacy antivirus solution.

Cost savings are being reallocated towards an added layer of advanced threat protection in endpoint stacks and an increase in IT resources. 51% of cybersecurity professionals say they’ve added an extra layer of security to their antivirus solutions.

Furthermore, since 2017 the number of IT departments reporting they have ample resources to minimize endpoint threats has increased from 36% to 44%.

endpoint security risk

“The move to Windows 10 provides the perfect opportunity for organizations to retool their endpoint security to better defend against the zero-day attacks and advanced threats that are evading legacy antivirus in 2020 and pose the biggest risk to their business,” said Andrew Homer, VP of Security Strategy at Morphisec.

“Forward thinking cybersecurity professionals are shifting to the free antivirus capability built into Windows 10 and reallocating their cost savings into an additional layer of advanced threat protection and increased IT resources.”

EDR adoption

The study found that half of the companies who have adopted EDR cite costly customization (55%) and false-positive alerts (60%) as significant challenges.

In addition, of IT departments that haven’t adopted EDR yet, 65% say lack of confidence in the ability to prevent zero-day threats and 61% note security staffing limitations as the top reasons to avoid adoption.

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