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Cybersecurity Requires Proactive Approach: Ernst & Young

That the cyber threat landscape is growing increasingly rocky for many businesses is difficult to dispute.

That the cyber threat landscape is growing increasingly rocky for many businesses is difficult to dispute.

According to a new report from consulting firm Ernst & Young, addressing that reality requires businesses take a proactive approach to security. That begins with laying a foundation for security, starting with conducting a security assessment, creating a roadmap and getting board-level support. Unfortunately however, more than half those surveyed by Ernst & Young said their organizations are challenged by a lack of skilled resources, and 43 percent said their total information security budget will stay roughly the same in the coming 12 months despite increasing threats.

That number is roughly the same as in 2013, when 46 percent said their budgets would not change. Still, 63 percent cited budget constraints as a main obstacle, and just five percent said they have a threat intelligence team with dedicated analysts.

“Organizations will only develop a risk strategy of the future if they understand how to anticipate cybercrime,” said Paul van Kessel, the firm’s global risk leader, in a statement. “Cyber-attacks have the potential to be far-reaching – not only financially, but also in terms of brand and reputation damage, the loss of competitive advantage and regulatory non-compliance. Organizations must undertake a journey from a reactive to a proactive posture, transforming themselves from easy targets for cybercriminals into more formidable adversaries.”

“Too many organizations,” he added, “still fall short in mastering the foundational components of cybersecurity. In addition to a lack of focus at the top of the organization and a lack of well-defined procedures and practices, too many of the organizations we surveyed reveal they do not have a security operations center. This is a major cause for concern.”

According to the report, companies should treat cyber-threats as a core business issue and put in place a decision process that enables quick preventative action. In addition, businesses should seek to understand the threat landscape as well as their key assets. Finally, the report recommends focusing on incident and crisis response, testing the organization’s capabilities regularly and use any information gleaned from attacks to evolve its security.

According to the survey, which fielded responses from 1,825 enterprises, careless employees, outdated security controls and cloud computing use were cited as the main areas that businesses said increased their risk exposure during the past 12 months. Careless or unaware employees was cited as the number one threat that increased risk exposure by 38 percent of respondents, while outdated information security controls and cloud computing use were second and third, with 35 and 17 percent, respectively.

The top three threats were “stealing financial information” (28 percent), “disrupting or defacing the organization (25 percent) and “stealing intellectual property or data” (20 percent).

“Beyond internal threats, organizations also need to think broadly about their business ecosystem and how relationships with third parties and vendors can impact their security posture,” said Ken Allan, the firm’s global information security leader, in a statement. “It’s only by reaching an advanced stage of cybersecurity readiness that an organization can start to reap the real benefits of its cybersecurity investments. By putting the building blocks in place and ensuring that the program is able to adapt to change, companies can start to get ahead of cybercrime, adding capabilities before they are needed and preparing for threats before they arise.”

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