Cybersecurity: Growing Risk for Italian Businesses

Managing cyber risks involves identifying and monitoring potential risks, assessing their potential impacts, and introducing mitigation actions.

15 Jun 2023

Cybersecurity is a key factor for technological success. The acceleration in the digitalization of business processes, the proliferation of remote work, and increasing dependencies on supply chains have heightened businesses' exposure to cyberattacks.

Endpoint devices used in remote work (laptops, tablets, PCs, smartphones, or peripherals like printers) are favored entry points for hackers since they represent the intersection between sometimes unaware users and potentially vulnerable technologies.

According to a report on hybrid security by HP Wolf Security, 66% of IT managers consider hybrid working employees as the primary security weakness. Furthermore, employees are not only working from home (WFH) but also in public places, airports, and often abroad.

Cyber resilience helps companies defend against cybercrimes, reducing the risks and severity of attacks while enabling business continuity. However, according to the Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index, only 15% of organizations globally have a mature level of preparedness for managing security risks. In Italy, the level of preparedness is lower, with only 7% of organizations falling into the mature category.

This gap is confirmed by the study from the Cybersecurity & Data Protection Observatory of the Polytechnic University of Milan: in 2022, Italy spent one billion eight hundred fifty million on cybersecurity products and services (+18% compared to 2021), but still only half of what Germany, France, Canada, and Japan spent, and one-third of what the United States and the United Kingdom spent.

Clusit 2023

The Clusit 2023 Report adds another alarming statistic: Italy is a target for hackers, being the victim of 7.6% of all malicious actions worldwide (+168% compared to 2021).

In 2022, the manufacturing sector proved to be particularly profitable for cybercriminals. Incidents targeting "Manufacturing" in Italy accounted for 27% of all attacks recorded globally against this sector.

Malware reigns supreme globally, but in Italy, it is even more prevalent (53%, +6% compared to the global figure). These are mostly standardized techniques, a result of the cybercrime industry. This partly confirms the hypothesis that the increase in attacks in Italy is co-caused by significant defense limitations. Notably, 64% of incidents result from "clumsy" actions by users or ICT staff.

Malware, Vulnerabilities, Phishing, and Account Cracking indicate that we still do not know how to manage our accounts correctly, keep devices updated, and click links sent via email without caution.

Phishing and social engineering attacks in Italy are less prevalent compared to the rest of the world (8% compared to the global 12%). The percentage of incidents based on known vulnerabilities remains concerning, as this category could easily disappear with effective vulnerability and update management processes (6% in Italy compared to the global 12%).

Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report 2022

Netwrix Research Lab updated the "Cloud Data Security" report in 2022 by surveying 720 IT professionals worldwide through an online questionnaire. 53% of respondents experienced a cyberattack in 2022.

Phishing was the most common incident (73% of respondents fell victim to this type of attack) 29% of respondents experienced attacks targeting cloud infrastructures (compared to 16% in 2020). 32% of the cybersecurity budget is now spent on cloud security, up from 27% in 2020.

More than half of respondents (55%) stated that external actors pose the primary threat to their IT environment, followed by their employees (39%), who could inadvertently create security gaps, as well as contractors and partners requiring access (36%).

At the top of the list of protective measures are multi-factor authentication (MFA), which increased from 57% in 2020 to 69% in 2022, and cloud backups, which increased from 58% to 63%.

How to Defend Against Cyber Threats

The threat landscape evolves rapidly, which is why to counter it at a local and systemic level, it is necessary to constantly monitor its many evolving aspects (situational awareness: understanding the evolution of the cyber threat in relation to the interests to protect).

Creating and protecting data backups is an essential requirement. While service interruption can sometimes be a difficult consequence to avoid in an attack, the same cannot be said for data loss resulting from inadequate backup management.

Security by design principles should be considered from the early design stages, not just during implementation when intervention opportunities diminish. This approach should apply to all initiatives, from architectural to development or adoption of solutions, from on-premises to the cloud.

Source: Clusit 2023 Report on ICT Security in Italy

Cybersecurity: Growing Risk for Italian Businesses

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