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Ponemon study: Cyber attacks more frequent, severe

Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and severe, and the vast majority of businesses have suffered at least one data breach in the past year, a Ponemon Institute survey says.

According to the survey, 77% of respondents say attacks have been more severe or more difficult to prevent over the past 12 to 18 months, while 78% say attacks are more frequent. The survey was sponsored by Juniper Networks.

Only 10% of those who answered the survey say they had no data breaches and 53% say they had one to three.

ONE EXAMPLE: Northrop Grumman constantly under attack by cyber-gangs 

Given these numbers, 53% have low confidence that their networks would avoid attacks in the next year; 24% say they have high confidence they won't suffer attacks, the survey says. A third (34%) have low confidence their network infrastructure can protect against attacks.

"We believe the fact that so many organizations are having multiple breaches is resulting in a low opinion about security preparedness and a low level of confidence they have to prevent a future attack," the survey says.

The cost of 55% of the breaches was between $250,000 and $1 million, with 19% saying the cost was more than that, and 16% saying they couldn't determine what their breaches cost.

Data breach quiz

Most of the incursions took place on mobile devices (28%) or on devices owned by business partners (27%). Another 20% took place in corporate branch offices and 16% at headquarters.

Of those companies that did suffer attacks, 40% don't know where the attacks came from. The top three causes of security breaches are insider abuse, malicious software downloads and malware from a Web site.

Employee laptops were the most common (34%) endpoint from which security breaches occurred followed by mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones (29%) and corporate desktops (28%).

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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