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Ernst & Young Survey Finds Businesses Struggle to Keep Up With Changing Security Threats

Three-quarters of those surveyed report an increase in external attacks, but there is no security architecture framework in place for 63 percent of the organizations.

Businesses need to fundamentally shift their approach to information security in order to meet the threats presented by existing and emerging technologies, according to Ernst & Young’s Global Information Security Survey 2012. The survey polled 1,850 CIOs, CISOs and other information security executives in 64 countries.

[See Also: Cyber Attacks More Frequent and Harder to Detect]

According to Ernst & Young, organizations are implementing incremental improvements to their information security capabilities to provide short-term solutions — without tackling the issues associated with the overall information security threat. The survey found that 31 percent of respondents are experiencing a higher number of security incidents in the last two years. However, 63 percent do not have a robust security architecture framework in place and only 16 percent of respondents report that their information security function fully meets the needs of the organization.

Over three-quarters -- 77 percent -- of respondents indicated that there is an increasing risk from external attacks, but this is not the only source for concern for global organizations, as 46 percent reported internal vulnerabilities are also on the rise.

As new technologies open up new opportunities for businesses, so to do the threats rise. Though cloud computing use has doubled in the past two years, 38 percent of respondents have not taken any measures to mitigate the risks, such as stronger oversight on the contract management process for cloud providers or the use of encryption techniques.

In addition, 44 percent are now allowing the use of company-owned or private tablets, up from 20 percent last year. But just 40 percent are using some form of encryption technique on mobile devices.

As threats continue to increase and diversify, responsibility needs to shift from IT to the risk management departments, said Ernst & Young.

With just 5 percent of chief risk officers currently responsible for information security, many organizations lack the formal risk assessment mechanism provided by the risk function, resulting in 52 percent of organizations having no threat intelligence program in place, the survey found. The proliferation of threats — and the acceleration of the gap between vulnerability and security — requires multiple sources of assessment, such as internal audit, internal self assessments and third-party assessments, to monitor and evaluate security incidents, said the firm.

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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