By Jeff Harrell, Vice President of Marketing, Adaptiva

More bad news when it comes to IT security. The fourth annual Enterprise Endpoint Security Survey was recently released, showing that just 17% of companies believe they have enough staff to handle security correctly, and vulnerabilities continue to take a remarkably long time to fix, particularly without solutions that meet their needs. These findings (and more) come as organizations face unprecedented threats.

So what’s going on?

Vulnerabilities on the Rise

Cybercrime is predicted to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021, with new threats becoming the number one pain point for endpoint security buyers. Deloitte points out one reason for this is that as workforces become more distributed and organizations are responsible for securing more devices, it becomes harder and harder to secure the endpoint, calling it companies’ “weakest security link.”

Shoring up the endpoint is critical, however, because that’s where approximately 80% of cyberattacks occur—and these attacks are increasing at a blistering pace. Research shows that between 2016 and 2017 there was a 600% increase in attacks against IoT devices alone. Any Google search can turn up a multitude of other scary stats that underscore just how great today’s cyberthreat is and how it is expected to get worse. But the bottom line is vulnerabilities at the endpoint are a tremendous concern, one that must be addressed if organizations hope to protect their networks, IP, and customer data.

Current Solutions Don’t Solve the Problem

According to the annual Enterprise Endpoint Security Survey, IT professionals cited vulnerability scanning as their top cybersecurity challenge. One of the reasons shared was that current vulnerability management scanning solutions don’t solve their problems. In fact, they may increase frustration and stress by generating reports of hundreds of vulnerabilities that teams can’t address in a timely manner. Additionally, they suck up bandwidth and hinder network performance.

It’s not as though IT teams are throwing up their hands and pretending that vulnerabilities don’t exist, however. Ninety-one percent of respondents indicated that “maintaining current, compliant security configuration” is very or extremely important; they want to improve the speed and scale with which they can address vulnerabilities—they’re just a bit hamstrung.

Staff Can’t Handle the Surge—And It’s About to Get Worse

But fixing the problem is not simple. In addition to the exponential increase in vulnerabilities and devices managed, and the fact that vulnerability management solutions can hinder more than help, teams simply don’t have the staff. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the Enterprise Endpoint Security Survey indicated that they struggle to keep up as their teams are stretched to the max, often limiting their ability to handle security operations the way that they want or wish that they could.

Unfortunately, in light of internal staff shortages, their work is about to get harder. The survey reveals that only 29% of companies will complete migration to Windows 10 before Microsoft ceases support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. This means that potentially millions of endpoints will present openings for cyber attackers to take advantage of an outdated OS that is no longer monitored and supported by Microsoft and that also lacks the latest security features available in Windows 10. While 87% of companies reported that they will have more than half of their systems running Windows 10, close may not be good enough. It takes cyber attackers only minutes to wreak havoc. Given that it requires 52% of organizations surveyed more than a week—and 22% more than a month—to remediate vulnerabilities after they are discovered, this could spell big trouble.

Automation Must Be Part of the Solution

With staff being swallowed up trying to handle all of the threats and issues their organizations face, and those threats increasing each day, something’s got to give. Significant talent shortages make finding enough skilled IT workers to conquer these issues unlikely. And, even the best-funded, best-staffed organizations are fighting a losing battle against the clock. It would be nearly impossible for humans alone to write the code and execute remediations at the scale that they need to keep all endpoints up to date 100% of the time.

Automation has to be part of the solution. There have been knocks against it—from the time required to learn how to use new solutions to the limits of present capabilities—but solutions are improving rapidly. The next generation of vulnerability management solutions includes instant remediation capabilities. Even if a solution could automatically remediate only 50% of issues, that would be a vast improvement over the circumstances teams operate in today. It would not only accelerate the speed at which basic issues are fixed enterprise-wide, but it would also open up considerable resources to address more complex issues in a timely manner.

While enterprise IT security faces a difficult road ahead, all is not lost. The intense commitment of existing staff to fight cyber threats coupled with exciting advancements in automation could ensure that the results of next year’s survey look markedly different. Winning modern cyberwars will require man + machine.

About the Author

Jeff Harrell, vice president of marketing at Adaptiva, manages the company’s marketing strategies and initiatives across a growing range of products designed to assist global enterprises with pressing endpoint management and security needs. With more than 20 years’ experience, Jeff is known for his domain knowledge, creativity, and vision as well as the ability to execute. In his free time, Jeff can usually be found looking for birds through a pair of binoculars. For more information, please visit https://adaptiva.com/, and follow the company on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.