Attacks/Breaches
3/24/2010
05:53 PM
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Cyber Attacks Reported By 100% Of Executives

A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM shows growing recognition among C-titles executives of the importance of data protection.

Seventy-seven percent of C-level executives in a 115-person survey conducted in the U.K. say their organization has experienced a data breach at some point and all of them report attacks targeting corporate data in the past 12 months.

These findings come from a study released on Wednesday by IBM, a company that sells data protection services, and The Ponemon Institute, a privacy and information management research organization.

Larry Ponemon, founder of the group that bears his name, said that survey shows a shift in the way C-level executives think about security software. Investing in data protection, he said, is now seen as less expensive than recovering from a data breach.

Data protection initiatives on average, according to the survey, result in a cost savings or revenue improvement of £11 million ($16 million) for organizations.

Perhaps more surprising than the revelation that security matters is the finding that while 75% of respondents see the CIO as the person responsible for data protection, 82% of respondents believe that the failure to stop a data breach would not result in the firing of the CIO.

This suggests either that respondents' beliefs about responsibility are misplaced or that few believe anyone can orchestrate a completely successful defense against cyber attacks, making firing for an inevitable outcome pointless.

As it turns out, the latter interpretation seems to be supported by the study: Over 27% of the respondents doubted that their organizations could avoid a data breach in the next 12 months.

CEOs appear to be more confident than the broader set of executives questioned, with only 10% expressing doubt about avoiding a data breach.

On a related note, CEOs appear to be less well-informed than other executives about the prevalence of online attacks.

"[O]nly 18% of CEOs believe attacks on data happen hourly or even more frequently, while 34% of other C-level executives believe this to be true," the study says.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.