Through the GRC Lens – September 2019

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Rethinking Cybersecurity in a Disruptive Age

With an increasing number of attacks in the market, despite more sophisticated cybersecurity solutions, many cybersecurity reports and surveys highlight why organizations need to rethink their cyber strategy and what’s in store for the future. – Here is what the media headlined through the GRC lens in September.

As attackers get more relentless with the volume and speed of their attacks, cybersecurity defense must safeguard all possible points of the attack surface. A recent survey of internal auditors published in City AM, found – cybersecurity, regulatory change, and digitalization to be the top three risks faced by businesses across Europe. The shortage of cybersecurity talent exacerbates the cybersecurity problem in a complicated enterprise environment.

Increasing cybersecurity resources

According to CISO Magazine, cybersecurity has emerged as a primary investment priority for financial firms in the United Kingdom. Reports from a survey conducted by Lloyds Bank states that cybercrimes have jumped to the fourth position from the eighth place since 2018. Banks in UK are increasing their budget allocation to enhance cybersecurity capabilities at their organization, Computer Business Review reported.

In another survey conducted by Infosys, targeting 867 senior executives representing 847 firms from 12 industries, with annual revenues over US$500 million across US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), reported that almost half (48%) of corporate boards and 63% of business leaders of surveyed enterprises are actively involved in cybersecurity strategy discussions.

While organizations have started to invest in building an efficient cybersecurity management and mitigation program, they still continue to face difficulty juggling priorities.

The Cyber Roadblock

A recent study conducted by BitSight, revealed that every two in five (38%) companies stated that they’ve lost their businesses due to lack of cybersecurity capabilities. An article by Forbes, ‘The Gap Between Strong Cybersecurity And Demands For Connectivity Is Getting Massive’, states, “…More devices and less adequate resources mean the attack surface continues to grow. “Every second that it takes to respond to an attack after it’s been deployed can have a huge impact on the business, be it in terms of man hours spent or sales, and reputation lost.”, states SC Magazine.

Even as enterprises invest in resources and tools to strengthen cybersecurity, why does it continue to be an Achilles heel for so many? The month of September revealed a few of the reasons:

  1. Human error is a big risk99% of email attacks rely on victims clicking links

Proofpoint’s Annual Human Factor Report, states that out of the vast majority of attacks, 99%, require some level of human input to execute – making individual users the last line of defense.

2. Businesses haven’t made it as much of a priority as it should be – Businesses are bypassing security to get to market quicker

A recent article by ITProPortal, highlights a research from Outpost24 which concludes that 34% of organizations bypass security to get products out to market faster. Almost two thirds (64%) of the respondents said they believe their customers could easily be breached, as a result of unpatched vulnerabilities in their organization’s products.

3. Third parties aren’t being monitored sufficiently – An example: How Much Responsibility Should Monster.com Take for Third Party Data Breach?

This month, thousands of resumes were exposed in a third-party breach that originated from monster.com, but the company denied any responsibility, saying – the client “owns the data.” According to CPO Magazine, “Though Monster.com’s denial of responsibility is legally acceptable under United States federal law, it puts the company at odds with the standard data protection requirements of a number of other nations.” This is yet another example of third-party risks being a great cybersecurity risk multiplier.

Cybersecurity is a complex problem with no easy solutions. Enterprises need to act quickly as the costs of data breaches are increasing at an alarming rate. According to Dark Reading, “The cost of breaches will rise by two-thirds over the next five years, exceeding an estimated $5 trillion in 2024, primarily driven by higher fines as more jurisdictions punish companies for lax security.” Juniper predicts that data breach costs will grow at 11% each year. The Ponemon Institute’s “Cost of a Data Breach” report, sponsored by IBM, pegs growth at 12% between 2014 and 2019.


Stepping up the cyber game

Unfortunately, 2019 was the year of data breaches with some record setting fines faced by companies like Equifax, British Airways and Marriott. The good news is that progress is being made:

1. Cybersecurity decisions involving the C-Suite:

Companies are fortifying their cyber strategies in alignment with business objectives. Defending threats requires the C-suite support, more than ever now. According to CPO Magazine, it’s important for security teams to make business leaders aware of the quickly shifting threat landscape.

2. Companies Are Forming Cybersecurity Alliances:

Over the last few years, cybersecurity alliances are being formed between tech-focused companies to support each other aimed at changing the ways companies deal with cybersecurity vulnerabilities and renegotiating the social contract between states and their citizens. The exchange of information is an effort to raise the collective level of cybersecurity, shape overall security practices, and speed the adoption of security technologies.

3. Artificial Intelligence Is Changing the Cyber Security Landscape and Preventing Cyber Attacks:

New advances in tech hold great promise to build cyber resilience. An article in Entrepreneur highlights how AI is a boon in cybersecurity, by stating, “Developers are using AI to enhance biometric authentication and get rid of its imperfections to make it a reliable system… AI-ML can detect and track more than 10,000 active phishing sources and react and remediate much quicker than humans can… AI-based systems proactively look for potential vulnerabilities in organizational information systems.”

Rethinking cybersecurity strategies has become imperative. With the changing landscape of cyber defense and new tools in the market, enterprises need to focus on building a holistic cybersecurity approach to deliver an effective awareness training and layered defense strategy. A strategy that provides enterprise wide visibility to better protect the company and its customers in a more efficient and proactive manner.

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