It's still not part of the executive suite, but there are signs that security is actually becoming a tool organizations use to meet their business objectives.
According to a newly released report from Ernst & Young that polled 300 senior executives in over 50 countries, one of the top three drivers for security is for meeting the business objectives of the organization. Not surprisingly, compliance ranks as the No. 1 driver for security, with 64 percent; privacy and data protection with 58 percent, followed by business objectives (45 percent), according to Ernst & Young's "10th Annual Global Information Security Survey".
"Many organizations now view information security as a critical factor in meeting business objectives and significant performance improvements are resulting from this increased interaction with corporate leadership and other key stakeholders," said Paul van Kessel, global leader of Ernst & Young's Technology and Security Risk Services. "This alignment has a positive impact on the bottom line and elevates information security from a technology deployment function to a strategic imperative. Organizations that aren't fostering these relationships are missing a key opportunity to move their businesses forward."
Eight out of 10 organizations said security has helped improve IT and operational efficiencies, and six out of 10 said it helped with the organization's strategic initiatives. And compliance has played a bigger role than a checkbox: Eighty percent of the respondents say compliance has improved their organizations' security.
Another sign of the times: Security and risk management are merging, and fast. Some 82 percent of the survey respondents say they have either partially or fully integrated their information security initiatives with their risk management ones, a big jump from 43 percent in last year's report. And the number of organizations that have fully integrated security and risk management doubled, from 15 percent to 29 percent.
Still, there's an apparent discrepancy between the inroads gained by security in business and the actual interaction between security and business execs. The report found that 32 percent of the organizations never meet with the company's corporate board or audit committee, and that monthly meetings between the IT and information security teams are three times more likely to occur than meetings between security and corporate officers or business heads. Those security departments that do get face time with the boardroom mostly meet less than once a quarter.
And finding experienced IT and security staffers is still one of the biggest challenges to delivering security projects. They are outsourcing some security tasks more now: Seventy-five percent outsource their penetration testing, up from 30 percent last year; 47 percent outsource security design, up from 7 percent last year; and security training is outsourced by 47 percent of the respondents, up from 21 percent last year.
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