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Board Rooms Becoming More Security-Savvy

Thirty-five percent say they discuss cybersecurity at every board meeting, a Veracode-NYSE survey says.

Board rooms are becoming more sophisticated about cybersecurity, creating new opportunities for CISOs to lead, according to a recent survey of 200 directors of public companies, conducted by NYSE Governance Services and Veracode.

The unfortunate news is that 66 percent of survey respondents are "less than confident" that their companies are properly secured against cyberattacks. The good news, though, is that these directors seem to be taking action.

Over 80 percent of respondents said that cybersecurity is frequently discusssed at board meetings -- 46 percent said "most meetings," and 35 percent said "every meeting."

"Hopefully the other 20 percent will read this report and say 'we're being negligent,'" says Chris Wysopal, CTO and CISO of Veracode.

They're also elevating responsibility for security -- so that the security officer is no longer the scapegoat. When asked who is held accountable for a data breach, respondents' number one answer was CEO; that was followed, in descending order, by CIO, entire executive team, CISO, and board members.

Over 70 percent of repondents are significantly concerned about the risk of third-party software in their supply chains.

They're also shifting away from a compliance-focused approach to a more risk-based, strategic approach. Only 9 percent of respondents said they prefered CISOs to present cybersecurity information by "audit and compliance status," while 33 percent preferred "high-level security strategy descriptions" and 31 percent preferred "risk metrics."

"They're starting to think about the right issues," says Wysopal. "The place where we saw a bit of a disconnect was on brand damage. They didn't connect" brand damage with the security of the products and service their own company makes.

As he explains, respondents' number one fear regarding cyberattacks was "brand damage due to customer loss" -- moreso than costs of responding to incidents, corporate espionage, or compliance violations. Yet, Wysopal says organizations don't adequately consider the brand damage that could be done by putting a highly vulnerable or even malicious application on the market.

Respondents ranked security risks second to last in their list of concerns when introducing a new product or service to market, behind development costs, competitive differentiation, and revenue potential (but ahead of marketing costs).

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