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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

6/3/2019
10:30 AM
Dan Didier
Dan Didier
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Certifiably Distracted: The Economics of Cybersecurity

Is cybersecurity worth the investment? It depends.

As the world watched the EU hit Google with the biggest data protection fine in history earlier this year, businesses across the US are realizing that no one is immune from the penalties of mishandling data.

From healthcare's HIPAA and the technology industry's ISO 27001 to the more recent General Data Protection Regulation and New York Department of Financial Services' cybersecurity regulation, data protection laws and regulations are on the rise. Several states already have passed data protection laws in the wake of GDPR.

It's no surprise that annual cybersecurity expenditures among US businesses have risen, due, in part, to the flood of regulations facing the marketplace. Some projections indicate private sector spending on cybersecurity will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. Despite the surge in both regulations and cybersecurity budgets, Malwarebytes, in its "Q1 2019 Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques" report, found that small- to medium-sized businesses still saw a 235% increase in detections year-over-year.

One would think that as investments in cybersecurity rise, breaches would decrease or, at least, hold steady. That doesn't seem to be the case, according to a wide body of research. Of course, many factors contribute to the rise in breaches, including more connectivity, increasingly complex systems, and the proliferation of cybercriminals looking to take advantage of new exploit tools and platforms, and the anonymity of cryptocurrencies. This leaves many asking: Is cybersecurity worth the investment?

That depends. Here's a closer look:

Security first: Lately, there's been so much of a focus on compliance that many companies are losing sight of the actual goal: security. But shouldn't compliance equal security? No. It's possible to maintain compliance without reducing risk. Unfortunately, many businesses have a false sense of security because they think certification will solve all their problems. From an economic perspective, it makes sense to treat compliance as a by-product of security. That means the focus should be on implementing cybersecurity processes and tools that are based on risk. And, as a result, the company will not only achieve compliance but be better equipped to withstand a breach or attack, possibly saving the organization significant capital.

Business-risk decision: Too often, business leaders are so laser-focused on compliance that they leave it up to their compliance departments to manage the process. However, pigeonholing cybersecurity to any single department isn't a good idea. Cybersecurity is a complex business-risk decision because it's integrated into every aspect of the business.

For example, it's difficult for the average person to comprehend how the Internet actually works; there are too many independent pieces making up this massive pile of pathways and technologies that no single organization controls. Cybersecurity is the same way inside an organization. It's too big and too complex for one person to have all the details; therefore, no one person can grasp it in its entirety — it must be a shared responsibility. And, as data and information flow through organizations, and are processed and influenced in faster and larger ways, a business's cybersecurity program must be able to adapt to that change. If it's pinned down to one department, it will fail.

Risk-based: Any business that has a cybersecurity program that's not based on risk is wasting its resources. Furthermore, the people tasked with doing this work are likely frustrated at their inability to contribute. A risk-based program begins with a risk assessment that identifies how much data the company has, where that data is located, what value it provides, and what liabilities are associated with it. If any of the above items are unknown, how does a company know how much of its budget to spend protecting its data? How does it know what technology needs to be adapted? What business practices need to be adjusted? How do you train people to protect that data? If business leaders aren't basing their cybersecurity programs on risk, they're not certain what to do; they're just guessing, and that's not only dangerous, it's negligent. This leads to underspending, and the topic many don't talk about, overspending. If you're doing it right, you're neither spending too little nor too much and you're creating a defensible position that stands up in front of the board, auditors, regulators, or business partners.

Baked in: Many business leaders don't recognize the economic impact of a risk-based cybersecurity program. In today's world, where most breaches come via third-party vendors — some 63%, according to a survey by Soha Systems — large companies such as Boeing and United are protecting themselves from these startups by requiring them to have proper certifications in place. The result? Many new companies are losing big contracts with these large corporations because they forgot to bake proper security practices into their product or service delivery processes.

The lesson? It pays to invest in cybersecurity, especially if a company plans to provide goods and services to other companies. Unfortunately, many startups in their early development stages don't realize the implications until it's too late and they've missed out on the big contract altogether.

Whether companies like it or not, cybersecurity will become more regulated, increasing the cost of doing business and raising the security standards of both clients and potential business partners. However, if companies follow these guidelines and learn how to use risk to best position their program for success, they will see a real return on their investment in cybersecurity. Best of all, their business partners will notice. Some might even ask for pointers.

Editor's Note: This column was updated 6/5/2019 to eliminate an inaccurate statistic. 

Related Content:

Dan Didier is the Vice President of Services and on the Board of Directors for GreyCastle Security. He is a cybersecurity pragmatist who partners with business leaders to appropriately position cybersecurity for the practical, effective, and relevant protection of ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
d.gromero
50%
50%
d.gromero,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2019 | 12:59:28 PM
Good post
¡¡Buen post!! Felicidades !!
Florida Town Pays $600K to Ransomware Operators
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/20/2019
Pledges to Not Pay Ransomware Hit Reality
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  6/21/2019
AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/25/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10133
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The form to upload cohorts contained a redirect field, which was not restricted to internal URLs.
CVE-2019-10134
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The size of users' private file uploads via email were not correctly checked, so their quota allowance could be exceeded.
CVE-2019-10154
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before versions 3.7, 3.6.4. A web service fetching messages was not restricted to the current user's conversations.
CVE-2019-9039
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
The Couchbase Sync Gateway 2.1.2 in combination with a Couchbase Server is affected by a previously undisclosed N1QL-injection vulnerability in the REST API. An attacker with access to the public REST API can insert additional N1QL statements through the parameters ?startkey? and ?endkey? of the ?_a...
CVE-2018-20846
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
Out-of-bounds accesses in the functions pi_next_lrcp, pi_next_rlcp, pi_next_rpcl, pi_next_pcrl, pi_next_rpcl, and pi_next_cprl in openmj2/pi.c in OpenJPEG through 2.3.0 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash).