A new report from BitSight Technologies found that both the retail and healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors lag behind the financial industry in cybersecurity.
The report ranks S&P 500 companies across four industries – finance, utility, retail and healthcare and pharmaceuticals by measuring security performance between April 2013 and March 2014. The ratings range from a low of 250 to a high of 900, with the higher scores being best, and are based on observed security events such as communication with botnets and email server configuration.
For the retail industry, the average rating during the period was 685, compared to 660 for the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector. The scores for the finance and utility sectors were 765 and 751, respectively.
“Based on our analysis, it is clear that organizations that treat cyber security as a strategic issue perform better than those that view it as a tactical one,” said Stephen Boyer, BitSight co-founder and CTO. “This partially explains the superior Security Ratings of financial institutions and electric utilities in the S&P 500 compared to retailers and healthcare companies.”
In the case of the retail sector, the number of security events the company observed jumped nearly 200 percent. From a malware perspective, Zeus and Zero Access accounted for nearly one-third of all malware infections.
“Many retailers do indeed have strong security practices, and the recent announcement from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) about the creation of a Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Chris Poulin, a faculty member with the Institute for Applied Network Security (IANS). “However, cyber security still needs greater resources and executive level attention across the industry.”
Zeus also made up 33 percent of the identified malware that hit the finance industry. Financial companies however had the shortest average event duration, meaning the sector is quicker to detect and respond to cyber-threats than others.
In the case of the healthcare industry, the average time to detect and respond was 5.3 days.
“In our recent assessment of medical devices used in clinics and hospital around the country, weak encryption, lack of key management, poor authentication and authorization protocols, and insecure communications were all common findings,” said Chandu Ketkar, technical manager at Cigital. “These gaps in security can lead to a compromise in data confidentiality and integrity. When sensitive data is compromised, it can not only create risks for patients, but also expose health care providers and device manufacturers to regulatory and business risks.”
The full report can be downloaded here.