CrowdStrike’s 2020 Global Security Attitude report reveals the startling rate at which Australian organisations are being targeted by ransomware attackers, and their concerns about state sponsored threats as COVID-19 lingers and international tensions grow.
CrowdStrike has released its global cybersecurity survey, which finds that over two-thirds [67%] of Australian organizations have suffered a ransomware attack in the last 12 months, which is higher than the global average of 57%.
Moreover, one-third [33%] of Australian organizations that have been subjected to ransomware attacks have paid the ransom, costing each business A$1.25 million on average. The percentage of ransom payments made by Australian organizations is higher than any other country in the Asia Pacific region and more than the global average [27%].
Of those surveyed, 74% indicate that COVID has proven to be a catalyst for long-awaited approvals on security upgrades that can help identify and mitigate ransomware threats. The report also finds that more cybersecurity experts in Australia are more concerned about ransomware attacks due to COVID-19 [80%], which is more than the global average of 71%.
Australian organizations are also increasingly concerned about nation-state attacks in the wake of COVID-19 [62%], with 71% believing that nation-state sponsored attacks will pose the single biggest threat to organizations like theirs in 2021. In fact, more than eight in 10 [82%] believe that attacks from China and Russia specifically pose a clear and present danger to Australia, and that growing international tensions will result in an increased likelihood for state-sponsored attacks [88%] due to increased motivation [85%].
2020 has certainly been a turbulent year and what with a strained trade relationship with China, the on-going battle against COVID-19, a move to remote working and growing rates of employee burnout, cyberattackers are more motivated than ever to exploit organizational vulnerabilities.
While over half of [59%] of Australian organizations report that COVID-19 has accelerated their Digital Transformation efforts by at least six months, 63% also state that COVID-19, along with the onset of remote working and lockdowns have made it harder for their organization to prevent cyberattackers from reaching their objective.
Australian organizations have also reported taking much longer than the global average to detect a cybersecurity incident – 140 hours versus 117 hours global average, with 61% finding it even more difficult now to hire cybersecurity professionals than it was 12 months ago.
“The stream of high-profile ransomware attacks on Australian businesses in the last 12 months along with the growing complexity from on-going remote working caused by the lingering pandemic as well as geopolitical tensions, should encourage all Australian businesses to get smart about cybersecurity,” said Michael Sentonas, Chief Technology Officer at CrowdStrike.
“It is critical that every business, regardless of size has a focus on cybersecurity, resiliency and privacy, not only for the sake of the business itself, but as a matter of protecting the economy, national security and the safety of all Australians as a whole.”
The CrowdStrike survey was conducted among 200 senior IT decision-makers and IT security professionals across Australia’s major industry sectors.
Australia key facts
Pandemic spikes concerns over ransomware: The threat of ransomware has changed over the course of 2020, and this can become extremely costly for organizations when there is no other option but to pay the ransom.
• Over two-thirds [67%] of Australian organizations have suffered a ransomware attack in the last 12 months, compared to a global average of 57%.
• One-third [33%] of those subjected to a ransomware attack paid the ransom. This is higher than any other country in the Asia Pacific surveyed and far more than the global average [27%]. Moreover, 36% of Australian organizations also attempted to negotiate with the attackers.
• Of those that paid, the average amount was A$1.25 million [US$890,000]. This is slightly lower than the global average pay out of A$1.55 million [US$1.1 million].
• The top three types of cyberattack causing the greatest concern for IT security professionals in Australia are ransomware [56%], general malware [50%] and phishing [42%].
Nation-states present a huge threat regionally: Now, more than ever, nation-state actors seem to be more motivated to target organizations in a variety of industries, from all over the world.
• Over half [54%] of Australian security professionals think a nation-state attack on their organization would be motivated by financial gain, while 49% believe nation-state attackers would aim to take advantage of vulnerabilities caused by COVID-19.
• Australian IT professionals worry about nation-state attacks from China the most [45%], followed by Russia [15%] then North Korea [8%].
• More than eight in 10 [82%] believe cyberattacks sponsored by Russia and China pose a clear and present danger to organizations in Australia.
• 88% think growing international tensions are likely to result in a considerable increase in cyberthreats for organizations.
• 71% think nation-state sponsored attacks will pose the single biggest threat to organizations like theirs in 2021.
• Interestingly, 83% said their organization cannot rule out being the target of a nation-state sponsored attack by any government, including their own.
The need for both Digital Transformation and security transformation: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote work and the shifting of digital strategies have shed light on the critical importance of layering security transformation into your Digital Transformation strategies.
• Over half [59%] of organizations have accelerated Digital Transformation by at least six months as a result of COVID-19.
• 74% of respondents indicate that COVID has proven to be a catalyst for long-awaited approvals on security upgrades.
• 60% said that their existing Digital Transformation plans did not take into account disruptive events such as COVID-19.
• On average, respondents report that their organization has spent A$8.44 million [US$5.99 million] on Digital Transformation over the past three years [above the global average of US $4.86 million/ A$6.85 million].
• An average of 10.67% [US$703,165/A$991,000] of Digital Transformation spend is on cybersecurity.
• Spending on security tools has accelerated dramatically in 39% of organizations.
• Spending on cloud technology has accelerated dramatically in 41% of organizations.
The changing cybersecurity landscape: Are organizations improving their response time? Have organizations, over the course of the past year, moved any closer to the 1-10-60 ideal for detecting and containing a threat on their network?
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• Australian organizations take 140 hours (decreased from 186 hours in 2019) to detect a cybersecurity incident, which is well over the global average of 117 hours but a (global average was 120 in 2019)
• A focus more on prevention and perimeter security, rather than detection, is the major challenge preventing Australian organizations from detecting cybersecurity intrusions sooner [well ahead of dealing with legacy infrastructure at 31%].
• One in three Australian respondents say they lack the skills to properly investigate or mitigate cyberattacks and 38% say that detecting an intrusion during the past 12 months took too long.
• 58% of respondents say they hired at least six cybersecurity professionals in the past year with 61% finding it more difficult now than 12 months ago to hire cybersecurity professionals.
• 44% find it easier to outsource cybersecurity talent rather than directly hire with 35% saying there is insufficient talent available in the market with demand higher than supply.