Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 20 August 2019 13:18

Study finds inadequate education, leadership, funding major barriers to Australia’s cyber security preparedness

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The success of an organisation’s cybersecurity investment lies in more than buying technology, with corporate culture, employee education and path-to-purchase playing a critical role, according to a new research report.

The study by security firm Sophos reveals that across Australia, the majority (60%) of business decision makers believe lack of security expertise is a challenge for their organisation, with 65% observing recruitment of skills to be a struggle.

This comes down to the set-up of cybersecurity within organisations, which commonly sees IT staff tasked with security in addition to their other responsibilities, the study found.

According to Sophos, there is also a wider corporate cultural issue, relating to attitude and behaviour, impacting corporate cybersecurity – with 87% of Australian organisations believing the biggest challenge to their security in the next 24 months will be improving cybersecurity awareness and education among employees and leadership.

The research found that in Australia, only a third (33%) of organisations have a dedicated cybersecurity budget, and in most cases budgets are included as part of other broader IT or other departmental spend.

Organisational IT security structures are diverse — one third of those surveyed have a dedicated CISO, another third sees cybersecurity led by an IT leader, and the remainder give responsibility to another executive, such as the CTO.

And, according to the research, the majority of organisations continue to keep most capabilities in-house and only in a few areas, like penetration testing and training, does outsourcing become a more common approach.

Only 18% of Australian organisations are regularly making significant changes to their cybersecurity approach, with some (45%) intending to make changes to their security approach in the next six to 24 months.

As part of this, more than half (54%) of organisations anticipate their use of external security partners to rise over the next 12 months.

Sophos says the main triggers for security updates — beyond changes to overall security posture — are technology and product developments, compliance and regulation requirements, and growing awareness of new attacks.

So, how does Australia compare?:

  • 34% of Australian organisations said they had been breached in the last 12 months – the second highest of all the surveyed countries·
  • The most serious attack vectors in Australia (receiving a seriousness rating of 9 or 10 out of 10) are malware, phishing and ransomware
  • The top three cybersecurity frustrations are:

           o Executives assuming cybersecurity is easy
           o Cybersecurity frequently being relegated in priority
           o Not enough budget

  • The top technologies or issues Australian security decision makers think will impact their organisation’s security in the next 24 months are digital transformation programs, agile development, AI and machine learning.

“Security is hard. We all know it. Sophos’ survey highlights the constant challenge presented by the evolving security landscape and never-ending search for skills and best practices to help organisations overcome these threats,” says Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist, Sophos.

“What does it really mean to ‘be secure’? Ultimately, security is about managing risk. To do that effectively, IT managers must be able to identify key areas where their team’s actions will have an outsized impact on protecting their organisation, employees and the data their company has been entrusted with,” Wisniewski concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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