Government agencies see misconfigured cloud services as top security threat

Netwrix report states public sector is most concerned about external threats

Netwrix, a cybersecurity vendor that focuses on data security, released its 2020 Cyber Threats Report. In June 2020, the company did an online survey to determine how the pandemic and employees working from home affected IT risk. 

According to the report, the public sector is most concerned about cyberattacks. This included supply chain compromise (98%), VPN exploitation (95%), and credential stuffing (82%). The vast majority, 88%, of government agencies view cloud misconfiguration as a top security threat, while only 25% of agencies felt this way before the pandemic. Despite the growing concern, only 11% of incidents resulted from cloud misconfiguration during the first three months of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The human element has been the cause of most incidents during the pandemic, as 53% of respondents experienced a phishing attack and 18% suffered insecure sharing of insensitive data. Government agencies had difficulty detecting improper data sharing, as 42% needed days, 32% required weeks, and 21% required months to identify the issue.

According to the report:

  • More than one-quarter (29%) of government agencies feel security risk has increased since the start of the pandemic, while 86% are concerned about more frequent or stronger cyberattacks 
  • Concern about VPN exploitation has increased from 10% before the pandemic to 95% today 
  • About one-quarter (26%) of government agencies experienced ransomware or other malware
  • Employees were involved in data theft for 6% of respondents, and only 5% were able to identify the incident within hours. 

"Government agencies should focus their cybersecurity efforts on mitigating the insider threat, especially when many employees and contractors are accessing the networks remotely,” said Ilia Sotnikov, VP of product management at Netwrix. 

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“Organizations must ensure that every user understands basic cybersecurity rules and completes security training on a regular schedule. IT teams should look for solutions to speed threat detection and streamline incident investigation. In addition, they should follow proven security best practices like network segmentation, privilege attestation, continuous auditing for malicious activity across data repositories, and alerting on suspicious activity and changes.”

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