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Boards Not Regularly Briefed on Cyber-Security: Survey

Even as cyber-threats circulate, the boards of directors at many enterprises continue to remain out of the loop when it comes to security.

Even as cyber-threats circulate, the boards of directors at many enterprises continue to remain out of the loop when it comes to security.

A new study from the Ponemon Institute found that 78 percent of the more than 1,000 CIOs, CISOs and senior IT leaders surveyed had not briefed their board of directors on cyber-security in the last 12 months. In addition, 66 percent said they don’t believe senior leaders in their organization consider security a strategic priority.

The findings follow a recent survey from the National Association of Corporate Directors (NCD) that found that more than half (52 percent) of the 1,013 corporate directors surveyed were not satisfied with the amount of information they were receiving about cyber-security. In addition, 36 percent said they were unsatisfied with the quality of that information.

“For a long time IT issues were seen by Boards of Directors as jammed printers and computer crashes,” said Michael K. Daly, CTO of Raytheon’s cyber-security business. “Showing the threat to brand and reputation – and ultimately shareholder value – has taken time. The Global Megatrends Survey showed that only 22 percent of respondents have briefed the board on the organization’s cyber-security strategy in the past 12 months and only 21 percent of say the board actually requested a briefing. In fact, one of the driving factors behind Raytheon’s desire to do this study was to elevate the information security point of view into the C-suite.”

One of the best ways to communicate with the boardroom is by reporting simple metrics that matter to the business, said Daly.

“Telling a board how many times a firewall blocked an attack doesn’t mean anything – they are left to wonder if it is good or bad that we are seeing attacks,” he said. “At Raytheon we report one number, dwell-time – the amount of time an attacker is able to use a computer before being stopped. Our goal is to keep that number as close to zero as possible by preventing their ability to communicate, move or do harm. For our board members, the trending of that one number allows them to determine the company’s exposure to risk and whether the right investments are being made, whether it is in analytics, talent, employee training, or new tools.”

Less than half of the respondents believe their organizations take appropriate steps to comply with leading cyber-security standards, and just 47 percent said their organizations have sufficient resources to meet cyber-security requirements.

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Still, the majority of respondents believe their cyber-security postures will improve due to the following reasons: cyber intelligence will become more timely and actionable, more funding will be made available to invest in people and technologies, technologies will become more effective in detecting and responding to cyber threats, more staffing will be available to deal with the increasing frequency of attacks and employee-related risks will decline.

“High-profile cyber-security breaches are closing the gap between CISOs and CEOs by forcing meaningful security discussions into corner offices and boardrooms,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute, in a statement. “In the meantime, our study found there is still a large delta between resources and needs, as security leaders lack both funding and manpower to adequately protect assets and infrastructure.”

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