Majority of Enterprise Firms Lack Active Incident Response Plans

Report found that 77% of respondents indicated they do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan consistently in force across the enterprise.

The Ponemon Institute, in the recent IBM Resilient sponsored study titled "The 2019 Study on the Cyber Resilient Organization," found that a majority of organizations remain unprepared to fully respond to cybersecurity incidents. The study defines resilience as an organization's ability to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of cyber attacks.

The study's survey involved more than 3,600 security and IT professionals from around the world, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

The report found that 77% of respondents indicated they do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan consistently in force across the enterprise. This lack of planning has remained constant over the past four years that the study has been conducted.

Also, the report says that among the organizations which do have a plan in place, more than half (54%) report that they do not test their plans with any regularity. This means that the complex processes and coordination that should take place in the wake of an attack will not be managed as well as they should be.

IBM's Cost of a Data Breach 2018 study has found that if an organization can respond "quickly and efficiently" to contain a cyber attack within 30 days, it will save over $1 million (on average) on the total cost of a data breach.

This year's study was the first one to look at the effects of automation. In the study, automation refers to "enabling security technologies that augment or replace human intervention in the identification and containment of cyber exploits or breaches." These sort of technologies will greatly depend upon artificial intelligence, machine learning, as well as analytics.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they were significant users of such automation, contrasting to the 77% which reported their organizations only use automation moderately, insignificantly or not at all. Organizations with the extensive use of automation rate their ability to prevent (69% vs. 53%), detect (76% vs. 53%), respond (68% vs. 53%) and contain (74% vs. 49%) a cyber attack as being higher when compared to other respondents.

The skills gap also affected resilience. Only 30% of respondents reported that staffing for cybersecurity was at a sufficient level to achieve a high level of cyber resilience. Furthermore, 75% of respondents said that their difficulty in hiring and retaining skilled cybersecurity personnel was "moderately high" to "high." Adding to the murky situation, nearly half of respondents (48%) thought that their organization deployed too many separate security tools, which served to increase operational complexity as well as reduce visibility into the organization's overall security posture.

An emergent finding of the study was the realization that collaboration between privacy and cybersecurity efforts will improve cyber resilience. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed indicated that aligning teams in both areas is essential to achieving resilience.

Ted Julian, VP of Product Management and Co-Founder of IBM Resilient, told Security Now in a prepared statement that, "When proper planning is paired with investments in automation, we see companies able to save millions of dollars during a breach."

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.