Boards Still Not Grasping Cyber Threats, Say IT Decision Makers

Key decision makers do not have confidence in their Boards’ ability to manage cyber security threats, according to the latest cyber security analysis from Control Risks.
The global ‘Cyber Security Landscape’ survey of IT and Business decision makers found that almost half of respondents reported they believe their organisation’s board-level executives do not take cyber security as seriously as they should. This is despite 77 per cent of respondents citing the C-suite, rather than the historic owner, the IT department, as being most accountable for cyber security management and decision making in their organisation.
The survey equally found that just over 31 per cent also reported they are very or extremely concerned their organisation will suffer a cyber-attack in the next year and a third (34 per cent) say their organisation doesn’t have a cyber-crisis management plan in place in the event of a breach. This lack of preparedness is especially striking in the light of the 12th May WannaCry ransom attack, which affected 150 countries in under 12 hours.

Key findings:
Companies are struggling to adopt a risk-based approach: Although companies are now less concerned with merely complying with standards and are focussed on actually reducing the risk of a cyber-attack, almost half (45 per cent) agreed that assessing and managing these risks is their biggest challenge.
Third-party breaches are a growing concern: Just over a third (35 per cent) of respondents said a third party cyber breach had affected their organisation and despite nine in ten respondents (93 per cent) taking steps to evaluate their third parties’ cyber security measures, 53 per cent said this was confined to contractual measures.
Cyber attacks have major long-term effects: four in 10 respondents said a cyber attack has resulted in the misuse of sensitive or confidential information (43 per cent) and a loss of customer information (41 per cent).
George Nicholls, Senior Partner based in Johannesburg at Control Risks commented:
“The misalignment between treating cyber security as a technological issue or a business risk is not new. Yet, the survey shows that this misalignment remains a considerable and on-going concern for many organisations.”
He continues: “Our advice is to always start with the threat. The way in which cyber threats are assessed and communicated throughout the business is key. This assessment should include the specific cyber threats to the organisation, how they could impact the business and what controls might mitigate them. After assessing the risks and understanding them, the organisation can then deal with these within its overall risk management strategy.”
Organisations should ensure cyber security becomes a regular item on the board’s agenda that includes reviewing the external cyber threat landscape in conjunction with IT. Organisations also benefit from regular crisis management exercises that involve all relevant parties including the C-suite, IT, legal, communications and any other members of the crisis management team. These exercises ensure that all parties understand their roles and responsibilities and the potential implications of a cyber attack.

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