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European businesses must work harder to keep DNS protected

June 8, 2018 | Written by: EfficientIP | ,

European organizations seem somewhat neglectful of their data. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind, is British firm Cambridge Analytica, who misused 87 million Facebook users’ data. How businesses value customer data is reflected in not only how they use that data, but what they do to protect themselves from breaches to their networks. Compromising the DNS is a popular way to exfiltrate data out of an organization. So, what steps are businesses taking to secure their networks?

In our 2018 Global DNS Threat Report, an independent study surveying 400 large European organizations, we explored the technical causes and behavioral responses towards DNS-based threats and their potential effects on businesses across the globe. Very much like last year’s findings, European businesses are aware of what needs to be done, but are simply not doing enough. The difference is this year the consequences of not keeping data confidential will have a much heavier impact.

European businesses know DNS is important for data confidentiality

Since DNS is recognized as a prime target for data exfiltration, we were interested to see what our respondents did to prepare for GDPR compliance. The good news is that businesses are shifting focus from conventional security systems to prevent data theft.

European businesses believe monitoring and analyzing DNS traffic (36%) and securing network endpoints (38%) are the top priorities for GDPR compliance. This is especially appropriate given the most common attack is DNS-based malware, which is impacting 39% of European organizations, and in particular, hitting 44% of German businesses. In addition, 34% suffer phishing attacks and 19% experience DNS tunneling. These are all common, effective methods for data breaches.

Interestingly, about 20% are adding more firewalls, with the UK leading the way with 27%.. Although firewalls can be effective, alone they are not enough to combat modern attacks like those targeting DNS. Therefore, it is encouraging to see businesses are relying on additional, specific technologies to secure their networks.

DNS attacks making Europeans reach deep into their wallets

Around the world, 77% of organizations have faced DNS attacks in the past year, and each attack is costing European businesses an average of €734,000, which is more than any region in the world.

The average cost per attack is also at a hefty increase, with a year over year increase of 43%. With the recent implementation of GDPR, this number could rise even further ; see Ensuring GDPR Compliance by Preventing DNS Exfiltration.

French organizations had the highest cost per attack almost reaching nearly a million dollars at €847,000, and the UK had the highest cost increase at a colossal 105% increase. On the other hand, German organizations are slowing the growth of DNS attacks to some extent; last year having suffered the highest cost but increasing only 15% this year. Historically, Germany’s data laws are often cited as the most advanced in the world, and recent requirements asked US tech firms to build Germany-based data centers adds another layer of control and could be a reason why the cost has decreased.

Consequences of DNS attacks go beyond money

A shocking 39% of European companies were victims of data theft via DNS, which is the highest in the world. Nearly half (48%) of French organizations admitted losing sensitive data, compared to 33% globally. With the implementation of GDPR, we can only hope these percentages will go down.

The impact of DNS attacks does not stop there. Just over a third (34%) experienced a compromised website, and businesses in Spain suffered most at nearly half (48%). In addition, a fifth of European organizations suffered business downtime as a result of DNS attacks, which in France accounts for a quarter of organizations.

DNS is critical to ensure newer IT investments, such as cloud services, run effectively for the business. It is good news that European organizations are leading the way for their global peers when it comes to protecting their cloud operations. On average, a third (34%) of European businesses suffered cloud downtime, lower than the global average at 40%.

While it is encouraging to see organizations are looking in the right place to keep data confidential, more diligent efforts to secure their networks need to be done. The consequences of not securing the DNS also creates a higher risk of service downtime, compliance failure or compromised public image. It is up to the individual businesses to better secure their networks.

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