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​How do boards classify cybersecurity? Is it a tech or business imperative?

​How do boards classify cybersecurity? Is it a tech or business imperative?

“The lack of confidence in current cybersecurity skill levels shows that conventional approaches to training are lacking."

Cybersecurity is now front and centre on organisations’ boardroom agendas, but most chief information security officers (CISOs) have yet to earn a seat at the table.

According to a study by ISACA and RSA Conference, 82 percent of cybersecurity and information security professionals polled in the survey report that their board of directors are concerned or very concerned about cybersecurity, but only one in seven (14 percent) CISOs reports to the CEO.

Consequently, this gap between belief and actions at the highest levels of management is playing out in an environment where 74 percent of security professionals expect a cyberattack in 2016 and 30 percent experience phishing attacks every day.

“While there are signs that C-level executives increasingly understand the importance of cybersecurity, there are still opportunities for improvement,” says Jennifer Lawinski, Editor-in-Chief, RSA Conference.

“The majority of CISOs still report to CIOs, which shows cybersecurity is viewed as a technical rather than business issue.

“This survey highlights the discrepancy to provide an opportunity for growth for the infosec community in the future.”

For Lawinski, the cybersecurity skills gap poses its own threat to keeping an enterprise safe.

The past year saw a 12-point drop in the percentage of security professionals who are confident in their team’s ability to detect and respond to incidents, dipping from 87 percent in 2014 to 75 percent in 2015.

Among those 75 percent, six in ten do not believe their staff can handle anything beyond simple cybersecurity incidents.

In addition, Lawinski says the number who say that fewer than half of job candidates were considered “qualified upon hire” has risen from 50 percent to 59 percent in a year.

Meanwhile, twenty-seven per cent need six months to fill a cybersecurity position, up three points from 2014.

“The lack of confidence in current cybersecurity skill levels shows that conventional approaches to training are lacking,” adds Ron Hale, Chief Knowledge Officer, ISACA.

“Hands-on, skills-based training is critical to closing the cybersecurity skills gap and effectively developing a strong cyber workforce.”

New tech = New risk?

The study also looked at perceived connections between risk and two emerging industry trends: artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things.

Rather than viewing deep-thinking machines as their ally in detecting and combating cyberattacks, respondents believe that AI will increase risk in both the short (42 percent) and long (62 percent) term.

Less surprising was that more than half (53 percent) of respondents are concerned or very concerned that the Internet of Things will expand attack surfaces further and exacerbate cyber risk.

The survey also highlighted a marked lack of situational awareness for professionals who report that cybersecurity or information security is their primary role:

  • 24 percent did not know if any user credentials were stolen in 2015
  • 24 percent did not know which threat actors exploited their organisations
  • 23 percent did not know whether their organisation had experienced an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack
  • 20 percent did not know whether any corporate assets were hijacked for botnet use

“Despite the fact that most CISOs report into an organisation’s technology function, this year’s study shows encouraging signs that cybersecurity does earn respect,” Lawinski adds.

“Among those surveyed, 61 percent expect their cybersecurity budget to increase in 2016 and 75 percent say their organisation’s cybersecurity strategy now aligns to enterprise objectives.”

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