Survey: 46 Percent of Organizations Fail to Change Security Strategy After a Cyber Attack

February 28, 2018

CyberArk Survey Shows Organizations are Failing to Secure Privileged Accounts and Credentials in the Cloud, on Endpoints and Across IT Environments

NEWTON, Mass. and PETACH TIKVA, Israel – February 28, 2018 – According to the CyberArk Global Advanced Threat Landscape Report 2018, nearly half (46 percent) of IT security professionals rarely change their security strategy substantially – even after experiencing a cyber attack. This level of cyber security inertia and failure to learn from past incidents puts sensitive data, infrastructure and assets at risk.

Security Starts with Protecting Privileged Accounts

An overwhelming number of IT security professionals believe securing an environment starts with protecting privileged accounts – 89 percent stated that IT infrastructure and critical data are not fully protected unless privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are secured.

Respondents named the greatest cyber security threats they currently face, including:

  • Targeted phishing attacks (56 percent)
  • Insider threats (51 percent)
  • Ransomware or malware (48 percent)
  • Unsecured privileged accounts (42 percent)
  • Unsecured data stored in the cloud (41 percent)

IT security respondents also indicated that the proportion of users who have local administrative privileges on their endpoint devices increased from 62 percent in our 2016 survey to 87 percent in 2018—a 25 percent jump and perhaps indicative of employee demands for flexibility trumping security best practices.

The Inertia that Could Lead to Data Compromise 

The survey findings suggest that security inertia has infiltrated many organizations, with an inability to repel or contain cyber threats – and the risks that this might result in – supported by other findings:

  • 46 percent say their organization can’t prevent attackers from breaking into internal networks each time it is attempted
  • 36 percent report that administrative credentials were stored in Word or Excel documents on company PCs
  • Half (50 percent) admit that their customers’ privacy or PII (personally identifiable information) could be at risk because their data is not secured beyond the legally-required basics

Inertia and a ‘Hands-Off’ Approach to Securing Credentials and Data in the Cloud Create Cyber Risk

The automated processes inherent in cloud and DevOps mean privileged accounts, credentials and secrets are being created at a prolific rate. If compromised, these can give attackers a crucial jumping-off point to achieve lateral access to sensitive data across networks, data and applications or to use cloud infrastructure for illicit crypto mining activities. Organizations increasingly recognize this security risk, but still have a relaxed approach toward cloud security. The survey found that:

  • Nearly half (49 percent) of organizations have no privileged account security strategy for the cloud
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) defer on cloud security to their vendor, relying on built-in security capabilities
  • 38 percent stated their cloud provider doesn’t deliver adequate protection

Changing the Security Culture

Overcoming cyber security inertia necessitates it becoming central to organizational strategy and behavior, not something that is dictated by competing commercial needs. According to the survey:

  • 86 percent of IT security professionals feel security should be a regular board-level discussion topic
  • 44 percent said they recognize or reward employees who help prevent an IT security breach, increasing to nearly three quarters (74 percent) in the U.S.
  • Just 8 percent of companies continuously perform Red Team exercises to uncover critical vulnerabilities and identify effective responses

“Attackers continue to evolve their tactics, but organizations are faced with cyber security inertia that is tipping the scales in favor of the attacker,” said Adam Bosnian, executive vice president, global business development, CyberArk. “There needs to be a greater urgency in building cyber security resilience to today’s attacks. This starts by understanding the expanding privileged account security attack surface and how it puts an organization at risk. Successfully battling inertia requires strong leadership, accountability, clearly defined and communicated security strategies, and the ability to adopt a ‘think like an attacker’ mindset.”

About the CyberArk Advanced Threat Landscape 2018 report

The CyberArk Advanced Threat Landscape 2018 annual report is the 11th in the series. The survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne among 1,300 IT security decision makers, DevOps and app developer professionals and line of business owners, across seven countries worldwide.

Additional Resources

About CyberArk                                                                                                       
CyberArk (NASDAQ: CYBR) is the global leader in privileged account security, a critical layer of IT security to protect data, infrastructure and assets across the enterprise, in the cloud and throughout the DevOps pipeline. CyberArk delivers the industry’s most complete solution to reduce risk created by privileged credentials and secrets. The company is trusted by the world’s leading organizations, including more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100, to protect against external attackers and malicious insiders. A global company, CyberArk is headquartered in Petach Tikva, Israel, with U.S. headquarters located in Newton, Mass. The company also has offices throughout the Americas, EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan. To learn more about CyberArk, visit, read the CyberArk blogs or follow on Twitter via @CyberArk, LinkedIn or Facebook.

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