The average North American enterprise fields around 10,000 alerts each day from its security systems, far more than their IT teams can possibly process, a Damballa analysis of Q1 2014 traffic has found.
Culled from an analysis of large amounts of ISP and mobile traffic plus the firm's own customers, Damballa calculated that the noisiest networks of all generated an overwhelming 150,000 alerts.
Large amounts of this would be innocent, but the sheer volume many firms found themselves dealing with meant that infected systems were able to hide from IT teams that can't keep up.
Large enterprises with global reach averaged 97 active, infected devices each per day, responsible for the equivalent of 10GB of data traffic leaving the network in total.
"We are already facing a profound scarcity of skilled security professionals," said Damballa CTO, Brian Foster. "If we compound this fact with the increase in data breaches and the scope of work required to identify a genuine infection from the deluge of security events hitting businesses every day, we can see why security staff are struggling to cope."
It was this overload that had aided the cybercriminals that attacked firms in the US retail sector during 2013, one of which, Neiman Marcus, had experienced 30,000 security alerts during the period of its three-month breach, Damballa claimed.
The problem was sifting the alerts that indicated criminal activity from false positives and innocent but anomalous behaviour, Foster said.
"Automated incident detection is an important part of the solution to free valuable security staff from the labor-intensive task of sifting through false-positives, to focus on the more important issues of speedy remediation and threat mitigation."
Of course, Damballa's argument lines up with its attempts to push its own automated security product, Failsafe, which claims to comb through traffic to spot the infected endpoints. It's a technology for the breach age not dissimilar to a clutch of rivals such as FireEye.
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