Gaining Cyber Confidence With a CISO

Businesses aren’t the only ones struggling to ramp up budget allocations to fortify against cyberrisk. In his new $4.1 trillion budget proposal, President Obama has asked for $19 billion for cybersecurity efforts, a 35% increase from last year.

The president directed his administration to “implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that takes near-term actions and puts in place a long-term strategy to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security.” In addition to a cybersecurity awareness campaign targeting both consumers and businesses, the plan calls for government-wide risk assessments, a nation-wide push for a range of better consumer data security measures, and a range of initiatives to attract more and better cybersecurity personnel. Some of these new employees will offer cybersecurity training to more than 1.4 million small businesses, and the Department of Homeland Security is expected to double the number of cybersecurity advisors available to assist private sector organizations with risk assessments and the implementation of best practices.

Obama’s plan also takes a page from the private sector, creating the position of Federal Chief Information Security Officer to drive cybersecurity policy, planning and implementation across the federal government.

Many organizations have begun to see concrete value from adding CISOs to the C-suite. According to a recent study from ThreatTrack Security, companies with a CISO are more confident about the technology they use to combat malware (83% versus 63% at organizations without one). This is particularly notable as only 20% of those surveyed said their defenses against hackers have improved in the past year—about half of those who said the same in 2013.

“Perhaps CISOs have a better handle on what solutions to implement or are better equipped and positioned in the organization to ensure their team has the solutions they need to defend the organization,” the report said.

Organizations with a CISO also feel more confident about their ability to address cyberrisk. When asked if they felt able to personally guarantee the security of customers’ data, 71% of respondents from companies with a CISO said yes, while only 29% could say the same without someone in this role. CISOs are also making a huge impact on breach preparation and incident response. When it comes to having an incident response team or security operations center to identify and respond to cyberattacks, 94% of respondents at organizations with a CISO had these resources in place, compared to just 49% without one. Concerningly, however, the overall number was 80%, 6% lower than in 2013.

When asked how defending their organization against cyberthreats had changed over the last year, 45% of respondents said nothing had changed, while 35% recognized that it has gotten harder to fight cyberrisks.

ThreatTrack Security found CISOs have also boosted corporate compliance with regard to cybercrime, with only 11% of companies failing to report breaches to customers, partners or other stakeholders, compared to 57% in 2013.

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