A recent Accenture Security survey of 4,600 infosec professionals at large commercial enterprises and government entities found that 87 percent of targeted attacks last year (technically Feb. 2017 – Jan. 2018) were successfully repelled by these organizations — an improvement over 70 percent the previous year.

However, not every finding was so rosy. On average, respondents at the time of the survey — it was conducted from January through mid-March 2018 — said that their cybersecurity program protected only two-thirds of their entire organizations.

Ryan LaSalle, managing director of growth and strategy at Accenture Security and the former lead of Accenture’s cyber labs team, analyzed key takeaways from the 2018 “State of Cyber Resilience” report in an interview with SC Media at the RSA 2018 conference in San Francisco.

LaSalle attributed the improvement in stopping targeted attacks to two factors. First, companies have bolstered the effectiveness and scope of their visibility and threat detection efforts. And second, 66 percent of those surveyed said that they now receipt budget authorization from, and report directly to, the CEO or board of directors. “That means that CISOs now have that seat at the table they’ve been looking for,” said LaSalle. “And Ithink that as a result the behaviors and performance characteristics are changing for the better.”

Asked which aspects of a typical enterprise tend to be part of the one-third that remains inadequately protected, LaSalle noted that the “focus over the last several years has been around protecting the enterprise, the headquarters, as well as the systems and data that are under regulatory control — so payment card data and maybe health care records, things like that. But now I think we’re seeing that the security organization needs to continue to move out from that headquarters stance and look at where the company really operates to make its revenue.”

“It might be the operational technology environment like refineries or manufacturing plants, the industrial control footprint that tends to not [sufficiently protected],” LaSalle continued. “It might in their supply chain, if they’re highly dependent on third parties and smaller companies helping them to be successful. And then I think the third area is in the products and software that they ship as they serve their customers. As they move to digitally transform their company, that digital horizon is really pushing out ahead of where most security organizations are keeping up.”

“So there’s a lot of opportunity there for security to get closer entwined with the business,” LaSalle concluded.