Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/20/2019
10:00 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cybersecurity Accountability Spread Thin in the C-Suite

While cybersecurity discussions have permeated board meetings, the democratization of accountability has a long way to go.

A spate of recent surveys offer indications that the philosophy that "cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility" is gaining steam in the C-suite at most large organizations. But digging into the numbers — and keeping in mind perennially abysmal breach statistics — it's clear that while awareness has broadened across the board room, accountability and action are still spread pretty thin.

report released this week by Radware shows promising signs that cybersecurity is increasingly coming up in board talks and is near-universally viewed as the entire C-suite's responsibility to enable. Conducted among 260 C-suite executives worldwide, the study shows that more than 70% of organizations touch on cybersecurity as a discussion item at every board meeting. Meantime, 98% of all members across the C-suite say they have some management responsibility for cybersecurity.  

This jibes with another study released earlier this month by KPMG that shows CEOs are increasingly paying attention to cybersecurity risks as a part of their overall technology risk profile. In 2018, according to KPMG, just 15% of US CEOs agreed that strong cybersecurity is critical to engender trust with key stakeholders; that percentage shot up to 72% of CEOs this year. 

"CEOs are no longer looking at cyber-risk as a separate topic. More and more they have it embedded into their overall change programs and are beginning to make strategic decisions with cyber-risk in mind," says Tony Buffomante, global co-leader of cybersecurity services at KPMG. "It is no longer viewed as a standalone solution." 

That sounds good at the surface level, but other recently surfaced statistics offer grounding counterbalance. A global survey of C-suite executives released last week by Nominet indicates these top executives have some serious gaps in knowledge about cybersecurity, with around 71% admitting they don't know enough about the main threats their organizations face.

This corroborates with a survey of CISOs conducted earlier this year by the firm that indicates security knowledge and expertise possessed by the board and C-levels is still dangerously low. Approximately 70% of security executives agree that at least one cybersecurity specialist should be on the board in order for it to take appropriate levels of due diligence in considering the issues. Unfortunately, less than 6% of CISOs believe their boards and executive management have enough knowledge to truly understand the nuances and implications of the cybersecurity issues CISOs bring to them. 

"The lack of cybersecurity expertise on boards underscores the disconnect between CISOs and the rest of the organizational leadership team," said Bradley Schaufenbuel, CISO and VP at Paylocity, in that report. "It is difficult to expect the proper level of governance and oversight with such an inherent absence of understanding of the risk at that level." 

More troubling about this assessment from the security professionals is that many CEOs consider themselves experts in security matters. The Radware study shows that 82% of CEOs ranked themselves as having a "high" level of knowledge about information security. The disparity between how the CISOs rank corner-office cybersecurity expertise compared with how CEOs self-assess likely indicates a false sense of security. And that's reflecting itself in low levels of buy-in and acceptance of advice from security employees: Only 36% of CISOs say senior management regularly takes their advice, and just 46% of broader C-suites admit to taking advice from security employees.

The results show that even though on paper everyone is "responsible" for security, in practice not enough decision-makers have adequate expertise and knowledge to develop and execute on security strategies. This is resulting in a disconnect that creates a situation where cybersecurity incidents are only reported to the board and C-suite at 40% of businesses today, according to the Nominet report.

Related Content:

 

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15564
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in Xen through 4.13.x, allowing Arm guest OS users to cause a hypervisor crash because of a missing alignment check in VCPUOP_register_vcpu_info. The hypercall VCPUOP_register_vcpu_info is used by a guest to register a shared region with the hypervisor. The region will be map...
CVE-2020-15565
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in Xen through 4.13.x, allowing x86 Intel HVM guest OS users to cause a host OS denial of service or possibly gain privileges because of insufficient cache write-back under VT-d. When page tables are shared between IOMMU and CPU, changes to them require flushing of both TLBs....
CVE-2020-15566
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in Xen through 4.13.x, allowing guest OS users to cause a host OS crash because of incorrect error handling in event-channel port allocation. The allocation of an event-channel port may fail for multiple reasons: (1) port is already in use, (2) the memory allocation failed, o...
CVE-2020-15567
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in Xen through 4.13.x, allowing Intel guest OS users to gain privileges or cause a denial of service because of non-atomic modification of a live EPT PTE. When mapping guest EPT (nested paging) tables, Xen would in some circumstances use a series of non-atomic bitfield writes...
CVE-2020-15563
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in Xen through 4.13.x, allowing x86 HVM guest OS users to cause a hypervisor crash. An inverted conditional in x86 HVM guests' dirty video RAM tracking code allows such guests to make Xen de-reference a pointer guaranteed to point at unmapped space. A malicious or buggy HVM g...