IBM study: Use automation to strengthen cyber resilience

Thursday April 11, 2019
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
April 11, 2019 – Using automation helps to strengthen cyber resilience and save money after a data breach – but most companies are still not using it in their cybersecurity plans, according to a new global study published by IBM Security. 

The study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of IBM, explores organizations' preparedness when it comes to withstanding and recovering from a cyberattack. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents indicated they do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan applied consistently across the enterprise. 

While studies show that companies who can respond quickly and efficiently to contain a cyberattack within 30 days save over $1 million on the total cost of a data breach on average, shortfalls in proper cybersecurity incident response planning have remained consistent over the past four years of the study.

"The 2019 Cyber Resilient Organization" is the fourth annual benchmark study on Cyber Resilience – an organization's ability to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of cyberattacks. The global survey features insight from more than 3,600 security and IT professionals from around the world, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Of the organizations surveyed that do have a plan in place, more than half (54 per cent) do not test their plans regularly, which can leave them less prepared to effectively manage the complex processes and coordination that must take place in the wake of an attack.

"Failing to plan is a plan to fail when it comes to responding to a cybersecurity incident. These plans need to be stress tested regularly and need full support from the board to invest in the necessary people, processes and technologies to sustain such a program," says Ted Julian, vice-president of product management and co-founder of IBM Resilient. "When proper planning is paired with investments in automation, we see companies able to save millions of dollars during a breach."

Automation still emerging
For the first time, this year's study measured the impact of automation on cyber resilience. In the context of this research, automation refers to enabling security technologies that augment or replace human intervention in the identification and containment of cyber exploits or breaches. These technologies depend upon artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and orchestration.

When asked if their organization leveraged automation, only 23 per cent of respondents said they were significant users, whereas 77 per cent reported their organizations only use automation moderately, insignificantly or not at all. Organizations with the extensive use of automation rate their ability to prevent (69 per cent vs. 53 per cent), detect (76 per cent vs. 53 per cent), respond (68 per cent vs. 53 per cent) and contain (74 per cent vs. 49 per cent) a cyberattack as higher than the overall sample of respondents.

According to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study, the use of automation is a missed opportunity to strengthen cyber resilience, as organizations that fully deployed security automation saved $1.5 million on the total cost of a data breach, contrasted with organizations that did not leverage automation and realized a much higher total cost of a data breach.

The impact of the skills gap on cyber resilience
The cybersecurity skills gap appears to be further undermining cyber resilience, as organizations reported that a lack of staffing hindered their ability to properly manage resources and needs. 

Survey participants stated they lack the headcount to properly maintain and test their incident response plans and are facing 10-20 open seats on cybersecurity teams. In fact, only 30 per cent of respondents reported that staffing for cybersecurity is sufficient to achieve a high level of cyber resilience. Furthermore, 75 per cent of respondents rate their difficulty in hiring and retaining skilled cybersecurity personnel as moderately high to high.

Adding to the skills challenge, nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) said their organization deploys too many separate security tools, ultimately increasing operational complexity and reducing visibility into overall security posture. 

Privacy growing as a priority
Organizations are finally acknowledging that collaboration between privacy and cybersecurity teams can improve cyber resilience, with 62 per cent indicating that aligning these teams is essential to achieving resilience. Most respondents believe the privacy role is becoming increasingly important, especially with the emergence of new regulations like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, and are prioritizing data protection when making IT buying decisions.

Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) say their organization has yet to realize full compliance with GDPR, even as the one-year anniversary of the legislation quickly approaches. 

When asked what the top factor was in justifying cybersecurity spend, 56 per cent of respondents said information loss or theft. This rings especially true as consumers are demanding businesses do more to actively protect their data. According to a recent survey by IBM, 78 per cent of respondents say a company's ability to keep their data private is extremely important, and only 20 per cent completely trust organizations they interact with to maintain the privacy of their data.

In addition, most respondents also reported having a privacy leader employed, with 73 per cent stating they have a chief privacy officer, further proving that data privacy has become a top priority in organizations.

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