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IBM Security study reveals business best practices of CISOs

IBM Corp. this week released insights from the 2013 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment, which examines three areas impacting security leaders, including business practices, technology maturity and measurement capabilities....


October 24, 2013  


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IBM Corp. this week released insights from the 2013 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment, which examines three areas impacting security leaders, including business practices, technology maturity and measurement capabilities. The study leverages the know-how from experienced security leaders to outline a set of leading practices to help define the role of the security officer. 

“As emerging technologies like cloud adoption and mobile computing present new opportunities to organizations, the risk to data grows,” IBM said ina release.  Coupled with sophisticated and advanced threats from attackers, the role of the CISO is becoming more strategic within many organizations. Today’s experienced CISO is required to be both a technologist and a business leader, with the ability to address board level concerns as well as manage complex technologies.

“This year’s study uncovered key findings, leading practices, and a set of shortcomings that even mature security leaders are wrestling with. Looking in depth at three areas – business practices, technology maturity, and measurement capabilities – a path emerges that acts as a guide for both new and experienced security leaders.”

Business practices: The security leaders interviewed stress the need for strong business vision, strategy and policies, comprehensive risk management, and effective business relations to be impactful in their roles. Understanding the concerns of their C-suite is also critical. More mature security leaders meet regularly with their board and C-suite, thereby improving relations. When they meet, the top topics that they discuss include identifying and assessing risks (59%), resolving budget issues and requests (49%) and new technology deployments (44%). The challenge for security leaders is to successfully manage the diverse security concerns of the business. 

Technology maturity: Mobile security is the number one “most recently deployed” security technology, with one-quarter of security leaders deploying it in the past 12 months. And although privacy and security in a cloud environment are still concerns, three-fourths (76%) have deployed some type of cloud security services – the most popular being data monitoring and audit, along with federated identity and access management (both at 39%).   

While cloud and mobile continue to receive a lot of attention within many organizations, foundational technologies that CISOs are focusing on include identity and access management (51%), network intrusion prevention and vulnerability scanning (39%) and database security (32%).

“The primary mobile challenge for security leaders is to advance beyond the initial steps and think less about technology and more about policy and strategy,” IBM said.

“Less than 40% of organizations have deployed specific response policies for personally owned devices or an enterprise strategy for bring-your-own-device (BYOD). However, this gap is being recognized, establishing an enterprise strategy for BYOD (39%) and an incident response policy of personally owned devices (27%) are the two top planned areas for development for the next 12 months.”

 “It’s evident in this study that security leaders need to focus on finding the delicate balance between developing a strong, holistic security and risk management strategy, while implementing more advanced and strategic capabilities – such as mobility and BYOD,” said David Jarvis, author of the report and manager at the IBM Center for Applied Insights.