Malware Incidents Go Unreported, Particularly in Large Businesses

The largest companies, those with more than 500 employees, are even more likely to have had an unreported breach, according to a ThreatTrack survey.

Enterprises in the United States are facing mounting cyber-security challenges, with nearly six in 10 malware analysts reporting they have investigated or addressed a data breach that was never disclosed by their company.

Moreover, the largest companies, those with more than 500 employees, are even more likely to have had an unreported breach, with 66 percent of malware analysts with enterprises of that size reporting undisclosed data breaches.

These are just two of the troubling findings of an independent blind survey of 200 security professionals dealing with malware analysis within U.S. enterprises, which was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of ThreatTrack Security in October.

These results suggest that the data breach epidemic–totaling 621 confirmed data breaches in 2012, according to Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report–may be significantly under-reported, leaving enterprises’ customers and data-sharing partners unaware of a wide array of potential security risks.

When asked to identify the most difficult aspects of defending their companies’ networks from advanced malware, more than two-thirds (67 percent) said the complexity of malware is a chief factor, while 67 percent said the volume of malware attacks, and 58 percent cited the ineffectiveness of anti-malware solutions.

"While it is discouraging that so many malware analysts are aware of data breaches that enterprises have not disclosed, it is no surprise that the breaches are occurring," ThreatTrack CEO Julian Waits said in a statement. "Every day, malware becomes more sophisticated, and U.S. enterprises are constantly targeted for cyber-espionage campaigns from overseas competitors and foreign governments."

More than half (52 percent) of all malware analysts said it typically takes them more than rwo hours to analyze a new malware sample. Conversely, only 4 percent said they are capable of analyzing a new malware sample in less than one hour.

More than one-third (35 percent) said one of the most difficult aspects of defending their organization from advanced malware is the lack of access to an automated malware analysis solution.

"This study reveals that malware analysts are acutely aware of the threats they face, and while many of them report progress in their ability to combat cyber-attacks, they also point out deficiencies in resources and tools," Waits continued.

Four in 10 respondents reported that one of the most difficult aspects of defending their organization’s network was the fact that they don’t have enough highly skilled security personnel on staff.

Installing a malicious mobile app, allowing a family member to use a company-owned device, clicking on a malicious link in a phishing email and visiting adult Websites were among the top routes that senior leadership teams infected the business with malware.