On the heels of the cyberattack that caused a blackout in the Ukraine, the lion's share of cybersecurity professionals think a successful cyberattack on critical infrastructure is likely to happen in 2016 -- 37.56 percent high, 45.55 percent medium likelihood -- according to ISACA's latest Cybersecurity Snapshot report. (The survey was conducted Dec. 21 through Jan. 2, so it was open for a small window before the breach Dec. 23.)
ISACA surveyed about 2,900 cybersecurity professionals, mostly in the United States, about their opinions on a wide variety of pressing issues, from hiring to legislation.
Most respondents (62.88%) were against the government having encryption backdoors and most (58.87%) said they believe privacy is being compromised in the effort to create stronger cybersecurity regulation.
Nevertheless, more than half (56.78%) were in favor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (formerly known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015) -- which has had its own share of criticisms from privacy advocates. On the other hand, they weren't as ready to share information themselves; only 30.62 percent said they expected their organizations would voluntarily share information if they experienced a breach.
Responses were very mixed as it related to the European Union's striking down of Safe Harbor, the data transfer agreement that had, for the past 15 years, allowed multinational organizations to store Europeans’ data in the United States if the companies agree to comply with Europe’s data privacy laws. A significant portion of respondents weren't even aware of the change (18.02%), and just as many were unsure of how it was affecting their organization (18.66%). Yet, 4.35 percent said the impact was significant and it's already changing the way their organization does business; another 12.95 percent said their organization was making "some" adjustments.
One regulation that would certainly make a direct, immediate impact on the work of cybersecurity professionals would be changes to breach notification laws. Perhaps surprisingly, the vast majority, 83.55 percent, are in favor of companies notifying customers within 30 days of a breach being discovered.
The biggest challenge to such a policy, respondents said, would not be the operational issues of increased costs, insufficient resources, or systems not designed for the purpose, but rather the concerns about corporate reputation.
Believe it or not, basic cybercrime does not win the top spot as the worst threat to organizations, according to respondents; in fact it's not even in the top three. Social engineering is number one (52.26%), followed by insider threats (40.34%) and advanced persistent threats (38.84%) -- all ahead of cybercrime, malware, and distributed denials of service.
Ransomware was not a leading concern either, although 20.31 percent of organizations stated their organization had experienced a ransomware incident.
Respondents expect the cybersecurity skills shortage to continue in 2016. While 45.06 percent plan to hire more staff and expect it will be difficult to find skilled candidates, only 2.65 percent plan to hire more staff and expect it will be easy.
One of the challenges of cybersecurity hiring is that many jobs ask for the CISSP certification, which a professional cannot receive until he or she has worked in the field for five years. Many people don't know how to get those first five years of experience, because the industry has not yet created a clear early-career path. The ISACA results seem consistent with that. Eighty percent of respondents said they'd be more likely to hire candidates who hold performance-based certifications, and 63 percent say when hiring recent graduates for entry-level cybersecurity positions, it's difficult to identify who has an adequate level of skills and knowledge.