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ReliaQuest/Ponemon study: Orgs prioritize security but lack fundamentals for success

The good news: Many organizations are taking their cybersecurity seriously. The bad news: They continue to be held back by a lack of tools, including those needed to measure a security program’s effectiveness.

Those are the key takeaways of a study Open XDR-as-a-Service vendor ReliaQuest conducted with Ponemon Research.

More than 1,000 security leaders were surveyed in the United States (632) and United Kingdom (391). Participants were knowledgeable about their organizations’ efforts to attain a risk-oriented security posture. Most respondents are involved in implementing solutions (61%) followed by evaluating solutions (48%). The resulting report, “Making Security Possible and Achieving a Risk-oriented Security Posture,” covers the consolidated U.S. and U.K. research findings.

“This research offers insights into the priorities of security leaders, the day-to-day struggles they face and their ambition to support the business through change,” said Ashok Sankar, vice president of product and solutions marketing at ReliaQuest. “While it’s positive to see more leaders engaging in strategic approaches to securing their organization, as they look to implement programs like Zero Trust – which can be a multi-year journey – it’s important to keep their energy focused on the fundamentals of cybersecurity. Visibility, metrics and process aren’t sexy, but they are the building blocks of a resilient security program.”

Among the findings -- security leaders are committed to a stronger risk-based security posture:

  • 57% of respondents are prioritizing securely migrating applications to the cloud.
  • Almost half (49%) enable DevSecOps best practices.
  • 48% prioritize implementing Zero Trust principles as part of their security strategy.

But security teams are not aligned on their security program or metrics:

  • The primary obstacle to implementing an IT security risk management program is a lack of standardized metrics to measure progress (64%), followed by the lack of a risk management strategy and decision-making structure (58%).
  • 58% of respondents say that the lack of a well-defined security and risk management program is what makes their organization most vulnerable to attacks, but only 31% consider developing a risk-reduction program a top security priority.
  • Only a third (37%) of those surveyed believe that their teams are tracking the right security metrics and that it is easy to communicate them to business executives and board members.
  • Only about half (49%) rate developing business goal–oriented metrics as one of the top priorities for the next year.

Meanwhile, security teams are inhibited by process and operational inefficiencies:

  • 31% of respondents report their security staff spends at least 3 hours a day manually administering and managing (optimization, writing rules, integrating) tools.
  • The majority (57%) of organizations have one staff member managing more than four tools in their organizations. Only 17% have one staff member assigned to manage a single tool.
  • 52% agree that their team is spending too much time on data collection activities instead of threat detection and analysis.

Finally, poor enterprise-wide visibility is the main culprit behind risk exposure:

  • Only 13% say they have more than 75% visibility across all security tools, including on-premises and the cloud. 69% believe they have less than 50% visibility across all security tools, including on-premises and the cloud.
  • 56% believe they could achieve better threat detection and response efficiency with better visibility by integrating and providing a singular view across tools.
  • 60% state their top challenge in implementing effective threat detection is a lack of integrated visibility into cloud and on-premises sources.
  • Only about one-third (36%) say they are measuring visibility across the environment, including on-premises and the cloud.

“As organizations seek to digitally transform their business and adapt to hybrid work, it’s critical that security teams are not only aligned on goals, but also have the proper resources to drive resilient security operations, setting the enterprise up for long-term success,” Sankar said.

SC Media recently conducted a panel discussion to discuss the survey findings. Click here to watch.

By Bill Brenner

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