Advanced cyber threats are the most serious security challenge retail organizations face. Despite these concerns, retailers struggle to identify attacks once within the network, according to a new Ponemon Institute Survey, sponsored by Arbor Networks.

Known as “dwell” time, the time it takes to identify these attacks is, on average, 197 days for retail organizations. Despite this, 71% of the retail organizations surveyed said they are not optimistic about their ability to improve these results in the coming year.

This is alarming considering the number of attacks targeting their networks – 44% of retail organizations* experienced more than 50 attacks per month.

The Ponemon Institute surveyed retail organizations in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to better understand how they are dealing with attacks targeting their organizations.

“The big takeaway from our research is that more investment is needed in both security operations staff and in security tools, which can help companies efficiently and accurately detect and respond to security incidents,” says Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “The time to detect an advanced threat is far too long; attackers are getting in and staying long enough that the damage caused is often irreparable.”

“It’s time to find a better balance between technology solutions, usability, workflow and the people who use them. As security vendors, we aim to assist our retail customers so they can adapt to this new cyber security reality that balances the threats with the people who fight them every day,” adds Bryan Hamman, territory manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Arbor Networks.

The Ponemon survey asked how retail organizations manage the explosion in advanced threats and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting their infrastructure; how effective (or not) their IT investments are; and how they are adapting incident response procedures and integrating threat intelligence for better visibility, insight and context. Key findings among retail organizations included:

Advanced threats

  • 64% view technologies that provide intelligence about networks and traffic as most promising at stopping or minimizing advance threats during the seven phases of the Kill Chain
  • 34% have implemented incident response procedures
  • 17% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities.

DDoS attacks:

  • 50% consider DDoS attacks as an advanced threat
  • 39% firms “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” that they are effective in containing DDoS attacks
  • 13% have established threat sharing with other companies or government entities to minimize or contain the impact of DDoS attacks.

Budgets and staffing

  • Budgets are allocated 34% towards technology; 27% to staffing and 34% to managed services.

*Retail organizations surveyed included 675 IT and IT security practitioners in North America and in 14 countries in EMEA. Only IT practitioners who are familiar with their companies’ defense against cyber security attacks and have responsibility for directing cyber security activities within the company were selected to take part.