Corporate Cybersecurity Defenses Outgunned by Cybercriminals

The stats are well known about the increasing volume of cyber attacks and the growing number of vulnerabilities. In the face of such an onslaught, you would expect organizations to be upping their game. But the opposite appears to be the case, according to research by Computer Economics, a division of Avasant Research.

Based on its IT Management Best practices 2020-2021 report, five IT security and risk management practices scored low in maturity. While other areas of IT scored higher in maturity, areas such as encryption, incident management, authentication, penetration testing, and security audit compliance all showed levels below 50%.

Remote work exacerbates security challenge

The massive increase in remote work because of the COVID-19 pandemic is making matters worse.

“Cyberattacks have surged at least 85% since March,” said Tom Dunlap, director of Avasant Research. “Data theft and ransomware are on the rise, aimed increasingly at the work-from-home crowd. Because of this new reality, it is shocking what our best practices survey revealed this year: Many security best practices are not applied consistently.”

These results don’t mean that encryption, authentication, and these other areas are absent in organizations. But a large percentage of respondents admitted that they don’t practice these disciplines and technologies in a formal and consistent manner.

Encryption’s maturity rating of 46%, for example, makes it clear that 54% lack the proper processes to be thorough enough about encrypting their data. Perhaps they encrypt some but not all sensitive data. Or they encrypt data at rest but not while it is moving. Whatever is the case, these organizations are unnecessarily at risk.

Similarly, security incident management scored only 44% in maturity, two-factor authentication was at 43%, penetration testing at 42%, and IT security compliance audits at 41%. This suggests that cybersecurity technology is running too far ahead of the ability of organizations to formalize these technologies within an organizational framework that effectively implements them.

Optimize the tech you already own

This is not a healthy situation in an environment where cybercriminals have become more aggressive. With many companies now operating virtually, IT organizations are struggling to align security with a work-from-home model. With enterprise boundaries dramatically extended, IT must redouble its efforts to safeguard user and corporate data in such a way as to not unnecessarily impede productivity.

Prioritization of process and people over technology, therefore, appears to be warranted, at least on the security front. Obviously, if there are gaping technology holes, they must be taken care of. But beyond that, organizations are advised to review their security posture to ensure they are taking proper advantage of the security technologies they have already implemented.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been writing about IT and engineering for more than 25 years. Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Florida.

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