“Companies stuck in continuously reactive cyber security response cycle” finds Optiv Security Report

IT decision-makers are facing major challenges between dynamic adversaries, significant legislation and regulation requirements, business digital transformation needs and a rapidly-growing array of technology solutions. Ideally, business requirements would be the key motivator for an organisation’s approach to cyber security strategy, but, nearly two out of every three UK-based IT and security decision-makers questioned for a new research document say their security programme is continuously reactive due to constantly changing legislation, threats and other external factors.

That research report – issued by Optiv Security and entitled ‘Enterprise Attitudes to Cyber Security: Tackling the Modern Threat Landscape’ – takes an in-depth look at modern cyber security practices, as well as evolving requirements and strategies designed to balance risk and business acceleration.

The changing technology landscape is having a large influence on cyber security strategy. The proliferation of mobile applications has either a major or significant impact on 79% of businesses – even more so than the need to understand gaps in their current security programmes. Cloud-based technologies follow closely behind, with 77% of respondents citing migration to the cloud as having either a major or significant impact.

“Security teams that focus purely on the external threat are being left behind by the pace of business and digital change,” said Simon Church, Optiv Security’s general manager and executive vice-president for Europe. “We’re seeing a significant shift to a ‘business-first’ perspective among cyber leaders. It’s a perspective wherein risk is balanced with the imperatives of the modern enterprise. However, many organisations are still married to the antiquated outside-in model, which is predicated on buying security technologies based on the latest trends and vulnerabilities in a ‘problem and response’-style manner. This approach allows the landscape, rather than enterprise objectives, to dictate security infrastructure and operations, and often ignores the other important elements of a successful security programme – people and process.”

The research also finds that wider business buy-in is a challenge. Nearly three-in-five IT leaders feel that obtaining buy-in for their security programmes is tough, primarily because of a lack of understanding from the Board. Almost a third view this lack of understanding as a primary roadblock to delivering their preferred strategy, while just 23% feel like the rest of the business understands their security strategy extremely well.

Board dictating strategy

In 56% of businesses, IT formulates a security programme strategy, but this requires Board sign-off in order for it to begin. In nearly a quarter of cases, the Board dictates the strategy down to the organisation.

“Many organisations struggle to successfully measure and report cyber security Return on Investment against corporate business goals,” explained Church. “In fact, according to our research only one third of organisations actually report back to their business on the success of their programme with either a live dashboard or regular reports showing key metrics. By strengthening reporting, IT decision-makers can better secure buy-in and demonstrate the value of their security strategies and solutions.”

The research identifies that more than a quarter of respondents believe their security works extremely well. Increasingly, though, enterprises don’t just want effectiveness. They want simplicity. When asked how much emphasis businesses would place on different factors if they could rebuild their programmes from scratch, respondents say they would put 32% of their focus on simplicity. That’s a 9% rise over the current figure.

“The challenge is that the world continues to change and evolve at an accelerating pace,” concluded Church. “Everyone’s aware of the exponential growth and the impact on global economies and businesses due to globalisation, Internet and cloud business models, digital transformation, mobility – all radically changing industries that are being completely re-invented. The result of these transformations, and the existing security approach, is a cyber world that’s overly and unnecessarily complex and under-performing. Our research confirms that the industry needs a new perspective, a new approach. There’s a requirement for a new delivery and consumption model for cyber security that results in better outcomes. The industry needs an approach that puts business strategy and risk at the heart of cyber decision-making.”

*To read the full report visit Optiv’s website

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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