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Cybersecurity Readiness Confidence Declined In 2016

New report querying security pros shows increase in worry about risks with mobile and cloud environments.

The confidence of security practitioners in global cybersecurity readiness fell slightly in 2016, according to a new report out today by CyberEdge Group and Tenable.

The 2017 Global Cybersecurity Assurance Report Card took a temperature-check from 700 security professionals about a number of key indicators to come up with a global index score to reflect their ability to assess cyber risks and their ability to mitigate threats. The study showed that the index fell six points in the last year to an overall "C-" score of 70%.

A big part of that drop came on the back of a 12-point decline in risk assessment capabilities. As a part of the assurance report, security practitioners were asked about their risk assessment capabilities in 11 key areas, including cloud environments, endpoints, and Web servers. Most areas achieved no better than mediocre scores, with the worst performances in emerging categories like containerization and DevOps environments, which received failing grades.

"Today’s network is constantly changing — mobile devices, cloud, IoT, Web apps, containers, virtual machines — and the data indicate that a lot of organizations lack the visibility they need to feel confident in their security posture," says Cris Thomas, strategist, Tenable Network Security. "It's pretty clear that newer technologies like DevOps and containers contributed to driving the overall score down, but the real story isn’t just one or two things that need improvement, it’s that everything needs improvement."

For example, despite years of lead time on the cloud front, many organizations are still struggling to assess cloud risks, according to the report. When it comes to the confidence in their organizations' abilities to assess risks in SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS environments, respondents gave an average D- score of 60%, down seven points compared to last year's confidence in cloud security. Similarly, confidence in mobile device risk assessment fell eight points, to a failing grade of 57%.

Respondents were also asked about the biggest challenges impacting their readiness. The two biggest challenges they cited: the overwhelming cyber threat environment and low security awareness of employees.

Even so, security practitioners were rosy about the ability of their organization to improve scores. When asked about whether they are optimistic or pessimistic about their organization's ability to protect against attacks this year compared to last year, nearly 65% say they were somewhat or significantly optimistic.

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Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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Christian Bryant
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2016 | 4:41:52 PM
No Surprise - Next Steps?
I read these reports in full typically before I comment, but in terms of the drop I don't think anyone didn't see that coming with the massive shift to cloud computing for huge numbers of applications, the explosion of mobile computing companies and decentralization of IT resources (end user devices and servers). 

What was really telling was the change in my industry, Healthcare.  We have really got to get that one to the top of the grading system - anything less than an "A" is not acceptable when it comes to finances and healthcare privacy.

Now it's all about next steps, and here's to those being concrete, doable action items rather than more frilly process changes, pie-in-the-sky, big picture fantasies...
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