ISACA Study: Organisations Still Leaving Doors Open for Advanced Cyberattacks 1 in 4 Have Experienced an APT


isakaimgMany organisations are leaving the door open to an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack, according to a new cybersecurity study released at the CSX 2015 cybersecurity conference in Washington DC. Conducted by global IT association ISACA, the study found that more than one in four (28%) have already experienced an APT attack.

The 2015 Advanced Persistent Threat Awareness Study found that mobile device security continues to lag at many organisations, even though the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend increases APT risk. Three-quarters of respondents report that their organisations have not updated their third-party agreements to ensure better protection against APTs—a significant concern since third-party relationships have resulted in many significant breaches.  Additionally, organisations continue to have a preference for technical controls rather than education and training, even though many successful APT attacks gain entry through social engineering attacks.

The survey report, which includes insights from more than 660 cybersecurity professionals, notes that social engineering remains at the centre of the APT’s efforts to gain footholds into companies’ information systems. Early attempts began with phishing, evolved to spear phishing, and proceeded to whaling, which often included an attachment or a link that contained malware or an exploit. However, over the past three years, APTs have moved on to the Internet as the main attack vector, leveraging web sites, social media and mobile apps.

However, the news is not all bad. Overall, positive change is occurring as a result of the recent high-profile breaches. A major improvement is the significant increase in leadership involvement. Nearly two-thirds of the survey participants (62 per cent) indicate that their organisational leadership is becoming more involved in cybersecurity-related activities, and 80 per cent see a visible increase in support by senior management—a very positive first step in combating the APT.

“Advanced persistent threats have become the norm. Many major breaches are connected to APT tools and methodologies,” said Christos Dimitriadis, international president of ISACA. “As a result, it is more critical than ever for cybersecurity leaders and professionals to have a thorough understanding of these threats, and to be prepared to quickly and effectively respond.”

To download the survey report, visit For additional cybersecurity guidance, resources and credentials from ISACA’s Cybersecurity Nexus, visit


ISACA helps global professionals lead, adapt and assure trust in an evolving digital world by offering innovative and world-class knowledge, standards, networking, credentialing and career development. Established in 1969, ISACA is a global nonprofit association of 140,000 professionals in 180 countries. ISACA also offers the Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX), a holistic cybersecurity resource, and COBIT, a business framework to govern enterprise technology.

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