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No confidence in boards’ grip on cyber-security

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Key decision makers do not have confidence in their boards’ ability to manage cyber-security threats.
The “Cyber-Security Landscape” survey of IT and business decision-makers by Control Risks found that almost half of respondents believe their organisation’s board-level executives do not take cyber-security as seriously as they should.
This is despite 77% of respondents citing the C-suite, rather than the IT department as the historic owner, as being most accountable for cyber-security management and decision making in their organisation.
The survey equally found that just over 31% also reported they are very or extremely concerned their organisation will suffer a cyber-attack in the next year and a third (34%) 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 12 May WannaCry ransom attack, which affected 150 countries in under 12 hours.
Key findings from the survey include:
* 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%) agreed that assessing and managing these risks is their biggest challenge.
* Third-party breaches are a growing concern: Just over a third (35%) of respondents said a third party cyber breach had affected their organisation and despite nine in ten respondents (93%) taking steps to evaluate their third parties’ cyber security measures, 53% said this was confined to contractual measures.
* Cyber-attacks have major long-term effects: 4 in 10 respondents said a cyber-attack has resulted in the misuse of sensitive or confidential information (43%) and a loss of customer information (41%).
George Nicholls, senior partner at Control Risks, comments: “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.
“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, he adds.
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.