Centrify report shows that around half believe only a major breach would change their opinion that compromised user credentials are a ‘significant risk’
A worrying number of senior executives in the UK believe the risk of compromised user credentials (mainly stolen or misused passwords) – is an HR training problem, and not an IT issue, according to a study by Centrify, a leading provider of Zero Trust Security through the power of Next-Gen Access.
The study, commissioned through Dow Jones Customer Intelligence, shows that around one fifth (18 per cent) of respondents are happy to place responsibility for their security culture on their Human Resources (HR) department. However, nearly half (47 per cent) believe they have a strong enough security culture within their organisation to mitigate the risk of compromised credentials altogether. A further third claim that they have not experienced any problems relating to compromised credentials.
The study of 800 senior executives, including CEOs, Technical Officers (CIOs, CTOs and CISOs) and CFOs, in the UK and US, also indicates that many do not see compromised credentials as a significant risk, with 43 per cent perceiving default, stolen or weak passwords only as a minor threat or not a threat at all to an organisation’s success. Of these respondents, nearly half (45 per cent) say that a major breach due to compromised credentials would be needed for senior management to change its view on the subject. This is despite Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report indicating that 81 per cent of breaches now involve weak, default or stolen passwords.
Of the respondents that admit that they have suffered at least one significant cybersecurity breach in the last two years, a quarter (26 per cent) in the UK say that training and awareness would most likely have prevented the breach. However, with 23 per cent blaming a breach on senior management not treating cybersecurity as a top priority, the Centrify study suggests that attitudes and behaviour are unlikely to change very soon.
Barry Scott, CTO EMEA, Centrify, comments: “Research from companies like Verizon shows us that most data breaches are the result of compromised credentials, whether obtained through phishing, default or weak passwords, or some other nefarious method. As we become increasingly mobile, and systems and applications more cloud-based, we must rethink outdated traditional ‘castle and moat’ security models, and adopt a Zero Trust Security approach. First, we must verify the user is who they say they are, then validate their device, and give them access only to what they need in order to do their job. Finally, we must learn and adapt to what’s ‘normal’ for the user, and ask for additional authentication (or block access) when risky or abnormal behaviour is detected.
“This is not just an HR problem, nor indeed an IT problem; it’s a company-wide issue that needs to be supported from the top down. It’s only when senior management start to address cybersecurity as a priority, that it will become integral to the business and to the workforce as a whole.”
China’s export growth seen surging in Jan-Feb on low base: Reuters poll
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports likely surged to a three-year high and imports also jumped in the first two months of the year, thanks to a low base, as economic activity ground to a halt last year due to draconian COVID-19 control measures, a Reuters poll showed.
Exports are expected to have risen 38.9% in January-February from a year earlier, according to a median forecast in a Reuters poll of 22 economists, up from 18.1% gain in December.
China’s customs began combining January and February data last year to smooth distortions caused by the Lunar New Year, which can fall in either month.
Separately, the head of China state planner said on Friday that China’s exports are estimated to have grown over 50% in the first two months, without specifying whether that was in yuan or dollar terms.
The strong forecasts contrast with official and private manufacturing surveys that have indicated a weakening in external demand for Chinese products.
“China’s exports are facing both positive and negative impacts currently,” analysts with China Minsheng Bank said in a note.
“The exports volume of medical supplies and transferred orders from other countries due to coronavirus-related disruptions to production will decrease, with more countries speeding up work resumption with the rollout of vaccines.”
The bank’s analysts also expected a rebound of overseas demand for Chinese goods with the reopening of global economy.
Chinese factory activity normally goes dormant during the Lunar New Year break as workers return to their home towns. This year, the government appealed to workers to avoid travelling to curb the spread of COVID-19, prompting some economists to forecast a marginal boost to production especially in the country’s coastal export-dominant provinces.
Imports likely rose 15% in the first two months versus a year ago, the poll showed, with some analysts expecting the number to have been lifted by high commodity prices.
China’s trade surplus is expected to have narrowed to $60 billion in the same period from $78.17 billion in December, according to the poll. The data will be released on Sunday.
(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
U.S. job growth likely regained steam in February
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth likely accelerated in February as more services businesses reopened amid falling new COVID-19 cases, quickening vaccination rates and additional pandemic relief money from the government, putting the labor market recovery back on firmer footing and on course for further gains in the months ahead.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday will, however, also offer a reminder that as the United States enters the second year of the coronavirus pandemic the recovery remains excruciatingly slow, with millions of Americans experiencing long spells of joblessness and permanent unemployment.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday offered an optimistic view of the labor market, but cautioned a return to full employment this year was “highly unlikely.”
“We will probably see more people having gone back on payrolls,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Many will be related to service jobs, but that will not mean a rapid increase in jobs. It’s a slow progress toward eventual full recovery.”
Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 182,000 jobs last month after rising only 49,000 in January, according to a Reuters poll of economists. Payrolls declined in December for the first time in eight months.
Economists saw no impact from the mid-February deep freeze in the densely populated South as the winter storms hit after the week during which the government surveyed establishments and businesses for the employment report.
But unseasonably cold weather last month, especially in the Northeast, and production cuts at auto assembly plants because of a global semiconductor chip shortage likely shortened the average workweek.
The labor market has been slow to respond to the drop in daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, which helped fuel a boost in consumer spending in January that prompted economists to sharply upgrade their gross domestic product growth estimates for the first quarter.
Historically, employment lags GDP growth by about a quarter. But economists believe the catching up started in February, a year after the economy fell into recession at the start of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak.
A survey last week showed consumers’ perceptions of the labor market improved in February after deteriorating in January and December. In addition, a measure of manufacturing employment increased to a two-year high in February.
Though millions are unemployed, companies are struggling to find workers, which is contributing to holding back job growth. A survey on Wednesday showed employment growth in the services industry slowed last month, with businesses reporting they were “unable to fill vacant positions with qualified applicants.”
That was underscored by an NFIB survey on Thursday showing 91% of small businesses trying to hire in February reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.
This labor market dichotomy is because the pandemic is keeping some workers at home, fearful of accepting or returning to jobs that could expose them to the virus.
It has also disproportionately affected women who have been forced to drop out of the labor force to look after children as many schools remain closed for in-person learning. According to Census Bureau data, around 10 million mothers living with their own school-age children were not actively working in January, 1.4 million more than during the same month in 2020.
The Fed’s Beige Book report on Wednesday showed there are shortages of workers in both low-skill and skilled trade occupations. The vacancies are mainly in the high-growth industries that have fared well throughout the pandemic, such as information technology, engineering, construction, customer support, manufacturing, and accounting and finance.
“Jobseekers are more hesitant to pursue many of the in-demand roles that are required to be onsite, particularly in industries like manufacturing, which has seen double digit increases in job roles like assemblers and warehouse managers,” said Karen Fichuk, CEO of Randstad North America.
The virus has greatly altered the economic landscape and many of the services industry jobs lost will likely not return.
Though the unemployment rate has dropped below 10%, it has been understated by people misclassifying themselves as being “employed but absent from work.” It is expected to have held steady at 6.3% in February. Just over 4 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months in January, while 3.5 million were permanently unemployed.
Given the difficulties of retraining, structural unemployment could account for a bigger share of joblessness in the near future.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economists believe the labor market will gather steam in the spring and through summer, with vaccinations increasing daily, even though the pace of decline in COVID-19 infections has flattened recently.
A boost to hiring is also expected from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion recovery plan, which is under consideration by Congress.
“The labor force will begin a meaningful recovery in mid-2021 as extensive vaccine distribution will push toward herd immunity, reducing health concerns and allowing for a more complete recovery of some hard-hit industries,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Dan Burns and Andrea Ricci)
Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April
By Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Friday, extending gains from the previous session, after OPEC and its allies agreed not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Brent crude futures for May rose 60 cents, or 0.9%, to $67.34 a barrel at 0337 GMT, and was on track for a near 2% gain in the week.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 56 cents, or 0.9%, to $64.39 per barrel.
Both contracts surged more than 4% on Thursday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, extended oil output curbs into April, with small exemptions to Russia and Kazakhstan.
“It just goes to show how much of a surprise the OPEC+ discipline is,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
“What makes the gain even more impressive is that it comes against a risk-off backdrop and a higher U.S. dollar,” he said.
Oil prices usually fall when the dollar rises as a higher greenback makes oil more expensive for buyers with other currencies.
Investors were surprised that Saudi Arabia had decided to maintain its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day through April even after oil prices rallied over the past two months.
“An array of factors coalesced to bring the parties together, but the resultant price increase will almost certainly push the parties to change their minds when they meet again on April 1, 2021,” commodity analysts at Citigroup said in a note.
“Whatever its rationale, from a pure market balancing perspective, OPEC itself has indicated that more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil will be required in the market by end-June. That need starts by mid- to late Apr’21, as refinery demand for crude starts growing before escalating through Aug’21.”
Analysts are reviewing their price forecasts to reflect the continued supply restraint by OPEC+ as well as U.S. shale producers, who are holding back spending in order to boost returns to investors.
“Oil prices could rip higher now that a tight market is likely up through the summer. WTI crude at $75 no longer seems outlandish and Brent could easily top $80 by the summer,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a note.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Wardell)