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Tenable, Inc., the globally renowned cyber exposure company, has published a global industry study that revealed the vast majority of UK organisations (96%) have experienced a business-impacting cyber-attack in the past 12 months, according to both business and security executives.

The data is drawn from ‘The Rise of the Business-Aligned Security Executive’, a commissioned study of more than 800 global business and cyber security leaders, including 103 respondents in the UK, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable.

‘The Rise of the Business-Aligned Security Executive’

As cybercriminals continue their relentless attacks, 63% of respondents in the UK have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of business-impacting cyber-attacks over the past two years.

Unfortunately, these attacks had damaging effects, with organisations reporting loss of employee data (44%), financial loss or theft (36%) and customer attrition (34%). 65% of security leaders in the UK say these attacks also involved operational technology (OT).

Countering the growing rate of cyber-attacks

Fewer than 50% of security leaders said they are framing cyber security threats within the context of a specific business risk

Business leaders want a clear picture of how at risk they are and how that risk is changing as they plan and execute business strategies. But only four out of 10 of local security leaders say that they can answer the fundamental question, ‘How secure, or at risk, are we?’ with a high level of confidence, despite the prevalence of business-impacting cyber-attacks.

Looking at global respondents, fewer than 50% of security leaders said they are framing cyber security threats within the context of a specific business risk. For example, though 96% of respondents had developed response strategies to the COVID-19 pandemic, 75% of business and security leaders admitted their response strategies were only ‘somewhat’ aligned.

Measuring and managing cyber security

Organisations with security and business leaders who are aligned in measuring and managing cyber security as a strategic business risk deliver demonstrable results. Compared to their siloed peers, business-aligned security leaders are:

  • Eight times more likely to be highly confident in their ability to report on their organisations’ level of security or risk.
  • 90% are very or completely confident in their ability to demonstrate that cyber security investments are positively impacting business performance compared with 55% of their siloed counterparts.
  • 85% have metrics to track cyber security ROI and impact on business performance versus just 25% of their siloed peers.

Organisations with business-aligned cyber security leaders are also:

  • Three times [3.2x] more likely to ensure cyber security objectives are in lock step with business priorities.
  • Three times [3.3x] more likely to have a holistic understanding of their organisation’s entire attack surface.
  • Three times [3.3x] more likely to use a combination of asset criticality and vulnerability data when prioritising remediation efforts.

In the future, there will be two kinds of CISO - those who align themselves directly with the business and everyone else"

In the future, there will be two kinds of CISO - those who align themselves directly with the business and everyone else. The only way to thrive in this era of digital acceleration is to bring cyber into every business question, decision and investment,” said Renaud Deraison, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, Tenable, Inc.

Renaud adds, “We believe this study shows that forward-leaning organisations view cyber security strategy as essential to innovation and that when security and the business work hand-in-glove, the results can be transformational.

Study to examine cyber security strategies

Forrester Consulting conducted an online survey of 416 security and 425 business executives, as well as telephonic interviews with five business and security executives, to examine cyber security strategies and practices at midsize to large enterprises in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US. The study was fielded in April 2020.

‘Business-impacting’ relates to a cyber-attack or compromise that results in a loss of customer, employee, or other confidential data, interruption of day-to-day operations, ransomware payout, financial loss or theft, and/or theft of intellectual property.

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