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Insider corporate data theft and malware infections among biggest threats to digital businesses in 2016: Accenture and HfS Research study


June 27, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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Insider data theft and malware attacks top the list of the most significant concerns for global enterprise security executives, according to a new report from Accenture and HfS Research.

Hacker ConceptThe survey, titled The State of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust 2016, was conducted by analyst HfS Research on behalf of Accenture, a global professional services company that provides a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. HfS Research and Accenture conducted a combined quantitative and interview study of 208 enterprise security professionals, Accenture noted in a statement on Monday.

More than two-thirds of all respondents (68%) were C-level executives with security oversight at their organizations. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents were from North America, 30% from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 30% from the Asia-Pacific Region and 11% from Latin America.

The survey examined the current and future state of cybersecurity within the enterprise and the recommended steps to enable digital trust throughout the extended ecosystem. “The findings indicate that there are significant gaps between talent supply and demand, a disconnect between security teams and management expectations, and considerable disparity between budget needs and actual budget realities,” the statement said.

Of those surveyed, a majority (69%) of respondents experienced an attempted or successful theft or corruption of data by insiders during the prior 12 months, with media and technology organizations reporting the highest rate (77%), along with enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region (80%). “This insider risk will continue to be an issue, with security professionals’ concerns over insider theft of corporate information alone rising by nearly two-thirds over the coming 12 to 18 months,” the release said. “Additionally, the research shows that a budget shortage for hiring cybersecurity talent and well-trained employees is hindering the ability of organizations to properly defend themselves against these attacks.”

ThreatsConcern ImageKelly Bissell, senior managing director of Accenture Security, said that the research “paints a sobering picture. Security leaders believe threats are not going away, in fact they expect them to increase and hinder their ability to safeguard critical data and establish digital trust.” At the same time, Bissell continued, while organizations want to invest in advanced cyber technologies, they simply don’t have enough budget to recruit or train skilled people to use that technology effectively. “To better manage this security problem, businesses will need to work in tandem with the extended enterprise ecosystem – business units, partners, providers and end users – to create an environment of digital trust,” he said.

Despite having advanced technology solutions, nearly half of all respondents (48%) indicate they are either “strongly” or “critically concerned” about insider data theft and malware infections (42%) in the next 12 to 18 months. When asked about current funding and staffing levels some 42% of respondents said they need more budget for hiring cybersecurity professionals and for training. More than half (54%) of respondents also indicated that their current employees are underprepared to prevent security breaches and the numbers are only slightly better when it comes to detecting (47%) and responding (45%) to incidents.

The report identified five significant gaps disrupting the ability of enterprises to effectively prevent or mitigate well-organized and targeted cyberattacks, including:

  • Talent: Thirty-one per cent list either lack of training or staffing budget as their single biggest inhibitor to combating attacks;
  • Technology: Firewalls and encryption top the list of the most important technologies to combat cyber threats, but the largest increase in deployments anticipated in the next 12 to 18 months are in the areas of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI) (31%) and data anonymization (25%).
  • Parity: An enterprise is only as secure as its least secure partner, yet only 35-57% of all enterprises said they assess ecosystem partners for cyber integrity and preparedness, with business process outsourcing partners being the least vetted and credit partners being the most vetted;
  • Budget: Seventy per cent cite a lack of, or inadequate, funding for either cybersecurity technology or security talent, including training; and
  • Management: While 54% of respondents agree or strongly agree that cybersecurity is an enabler of digital trust for consumers, 36% believe that their executive management considers cybersecurity an unnecessary cost.

“While the gaps we identified can be overcome, they do collectively underscore the need for an inherently different approach, one that includes more robust risk management measures and the development of digital trust,” said Fred McClimans, research vice president, digital trust and cybersecurity, HfS Research. “There is an important opportunity to address these gaps by rethinking how digital trust and security can be holistically woven into the enterprise fabric through the integration of automation and AI solutions as well as through business partnerships and processes.”