New Ponemon study ‘finds massive overconfidence in enterprise security strength’
FireMon has published the results of a new study conducted on its behalf by the Ponemon Institute. The study exposes a severe gap in security visibility and perception between C-level executives and IT security staff, due in part to an organizational inability and lack of real-time intelligence to adapt to, and understand the impact of, change. The starkest findings are that in nearly 60 percent of the organizations participating, responsibility for managing the impact of business or technology change on security posture resides with C-Level executives and in 66 percent of the organizations surveyed, executive and Board perception of security is ‘high’. However, the information on which that perception is based is ‘disturbingly incomplete’, with 60 percent of IT security staff informing executives of specific risks only when the risk is deemed ‘serious’, or not at all: and in more than half of the cases, actively omitting negative facts.
The study surveyed 597 individuals who work in IT, IT security, compliance, risk management and other related fields at Fortune 500 class organizations with 1,000 or more employees. All respondents are involved in IT security management activities in their organizations. They also are involved in assessing or managing the impact of change on their organization's IT security operations.
In the shadow of the historic Target breach, and the revelation that Target management ignored security alerts, the findings could not be more telling, and they go to the core of what appears to be an endemic issue across every industry. Study author, Dr. Larry Ponemon, stated, "What is most concerning is that it would seem security in many organizations is based on perception and 'gut feel,' versus hard data. The stakeholders with the highest responsibility seem to be the least informed: a view that is amplified externally. We also found that executive perception of security 'strength' had a virtually identical percentage (63 percent) in external partners, and we know that third-party failings also had a hand in the Target breach."
Diving more deeply into the specific numbers, it quickly becomes apparent that the root causes of the broken communication and resulting vulnerability lie in an organizational inability to accommodate change and accurately set, measure and improve metrics to manage its impact. Specifically:
"The biggest issue is that IT security teams are flying blind," said Jody Brazil, president and CTO of FireMon. "Networks are becoming more complex and expansive, while we freeze or reduce the resources tasked with managing them. The fact that the study shows 60 percent performing manual auditing or none at all is alarming. In a threat environment that is 'always on' and aggressive, teams must have the ability to automate and continuously monitor and assess dynamic network environments, and be equipped with proactive tools to provide predictive and prioritised intelligence on an ever-shifting risk profile."
A copy of the report detailing the Ponemon survey findings, methodology and questionnaire can be downloaded here.
•Date: 19th April 2014 • World •Type: Article • Topic: ISM
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