The rise of sophisticated malware
Posted on 25.07.2013
A recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) research study focused on advanced malware protection and detection. The study revealed that enterprise organizations are seeing an increase in more sophisticated malware and are making it a strategic priority to add new layers of endpoint security to protect their organizations against advanced zero-day and polymorphic threats commonly used for targeted attacks.


Based on its survey of 315 North American-based IT security professionals working at enterprise-class organizations (1,000 employees or more), ESG found the majority of respondents have seen an uptick in more sophisticated and targeted malware attacks over the last 24 months.

However, 62 percent of organizations surveyed said endpoint security software is not effective for detecting zero-day and/or polymorphic malware, which leaves them vulnerable to these attacks.

“As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, IT security professionals are realizing that relying on only one layer of endpoint security isn't enough. Each endpoint needs multiple layers of malware detection to ensure complete protection,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes. “The reality is, most anti-virus products will miss nine out of ten zero-day malware threats, and having a layered approach blocks advanced threats that traditional antivirus scanners may fail to detect.”

Moreover, the study found that the most likely avenue for a malware attack, and cause for successful malware attacks, was lack of user knowledge about cyber security risks. IT security professionals surveyed believe an employee clicking on an infected URL posted within an e-mail was the most likely vector for malware to infiltrate their organizations.

Other likely avenues for malware to compromise an organization’s system included employees opening an infected e-mail attachment and unwittingly clicking on an infected URL while surfing the web.

“When it comes to managing malware risk, enterprises would be best served by implementing a layered approach using proactive and reactive lines of defense through their networks. Antivirus software plays a key role in protecting organizations, but it should not be the only method used to deter malware attacks,” said Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst at ESG.

“Additionally, sometimes the biggest vulnerability in an organization is the computer users. Because employee actions can greatly impact computer security, educating employees on potential threats and how to avoid them should be made a priority.”

In addition to uncovering these findings, the study also showed that:
  • 29 percent of respondent organizations that have suffered a successful malware attack believe the increasing use of social networks is responsible for those attacks
  • On average, it takes 57 percent of respondents hours to detect that an IT asset has been compromised by malware and 19 percent days
  • 74 percent of enterprises have increased their security budget over the past 24 months in direct response to more sophisticated malware threats
  • 62 percent of respondents believe their host-based security software is not effective for detecting zero day and/or polymorphic threats
  • 85 percent of IT security professionals, given everything they know about cyber security, are concerned about some type of massive cyber-attack that could impact critical infrastructure, the economy, and/or national security
  • 66 percent of U.S.-based respondents do not believe the U.S. Federal Government is doing enough to help the private sector cope with the current cyber security and threat landscape.





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