10 Eye-Opening Takeaways From Dell's Annual Threat Report

Dell Security Report: What Partners Need To Know

On Monday, Dell Security will release its annual threat report, and some of the results are eye-opening.

Over the past year, Dell blocked 1.7 trillion IPS attacks and 4.2 billion malware attacks. Almost 37 million of those attacks were unique -- that's double the total record for the previous year.

The report, an advance copy of which was provided to CRN, was compiled using data collected by the Dell Global Response Intelligence Defense Network using more than 1 million security sensor in more than 200 countries. It also collected malware/IP reputation data from firewalls and email security devices around the world, took information from more than 50 industry groups and research organizations and examined spam alerts from millions of computers protected by Dell SonicWall.

Following are a few of the report's key findings, some insight from Dell managers on how partners can best respond to the growing list of threats, and a take on the security market from a Dell partner.

A Surge Took Place In Point-Of-Sale Malware Variants And Attacks Targeting Payment Card Infrastructures

The retail industry was shaken to its core in 2014 after a staggering four major retail brands experienced highly publicized breaches.

More Companies Were Exposed To Attackers Hiding In Plain Sight As A Result Of SSL/TLS Encrypted Traffic

For many years, financial institutions and other companies that deal with sensitive information have opted for the secure "https" protocol that encrypts information being shared. Now other sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter are adopting this practice as well in response to a growing demand for user privacy and security.

Attacks Doubled On Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems

Industrial operations often use SCADA systems to control remote equipment and collect data on that equipmentā€™s performance. Whereas the motive behind POS and secure Web browser attacks is typically financial, SCADA attacks tend to be political in nature, since they target operational capabilities within power plants, factories and refineries, rather than credit card information.

Partners: Bank On Expertise

According to John Gordineer, director of product marketing at Dell Security: "For partners, in many instances, they are the trusted advisors when it comes to security for their customers. Reassure and reinforce that expertise with those customers. This report speaks to business owners, end users. It builds credibility, and a comfort level between customer and partner."

Staying On Top Of Things

Said Ken Dang, product marketing manager at Dell Security: "Many partners, many customers, we encourage them to hold quarterly reviews with customers. What's happening? Offer tools to partners to show that value."

Hacking As A Business Model

Gordineer said: "We've seen over the past 10 years a shift from hackers attacking networks for notoriety and fun to attacking as a business venture. Before, it was a very visible 'statement.' Now, they operate behind the scenes, and that enables them to take their time and analyze what they want to steal. Much of the traffic on the Internet is now SSL encrypted. Because of that, attackers do the same thing. There's a good chance they're using tools to encrypt malware so it's invisible to detection systems."

If It's New, It's Vulnerable

Said Swarup Selvaraman, senior manager, product management, Dell Security: "Anything new in the market, any new technology can be exploited."

"BYOD is a huge topic in security," Gordineer said. "People try to work with a laptop at the office, a smartphone on the road. The variables are huge. It's difficult for security to keep up with BYOD issues. Dell has a portfolio for partners to sell on devices, etc."

Making The Pitch

For Michael Gray, director of network operations at Mettel Co. subsidiary Thrive Networks, the Dell report echoes what he's been seeing for the past year, and it helps convince reluctant or skeptical customers that the threat is real.

A full 95 percent of Thrive Networks' client base has Dell SonicWall, he said.

"It shows my customers that this is what's going on. It's not just fearmongering," Gray said. "People now are certainly getting it."

Gray also said many aspects of security that used to be considered "enterprise" are now finding their way to small and midsize business customers. "We'd talk about security measures with SMBs, and they'd say, 'Well, that's not for my company, that's for big companies,' and it made them soft targets."

Awareness Campaign

Perhaps the most important aspect of the report is toward the end, where it tackles security awareness.

"That really is the biggest problem," Gray said. "Are all the doors in your house locked right now? We've done lots of reports like this over the years, and when we're saying the same things, it makes us more of a trusted advisor. We're not just making it up."

"The amount of attacks on small business we've seen increase dramatically over the last few years, and now it happens almost on a weekly basis," Gray said. "It tells us the hackers know that smaller targets are easier to get into, and they're making a lot of money off these business. Hackers are run like businesses just like any other. It's not just one guy sitting in his basement. They're getting very sophisticated and extremely organized."

Lock The Door

Today's security tools "are working really well, but it's always a cat-and-mouse," Gray said. "Can any vendor or provider say nobody will ever get in? No. But you do have the tools to keep people out. When you don't have those features, you're sitting with an open front door saying, 'come steal my stuff.' "