Cybersecurity Incident Response Plans Still Lacking, IBM/Ponemon Study Finds

March 15, 2018
Nearly eight in 10 (77) percent of respondents in a recent survey from IBM and the Ponemon Institute admitted that they do not have a formal cybersecurity incident response plan applied consistently across their organization.

Nearly eight in 10 (77) percent of respondents in a recent survey from IBM and the Ponemon Institute admitted that they do not have a formal cybersecurity incident response plan applied consistently across their organization.

Nearly half of the 2,800 respondents reported that their incident response plan is either informal/ad hoc or completely non-existent. Conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Resilient, “The 2018 Cyber Resilient Organization” is the third 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 security and IT professionals from around the world, and in many industries, with the healthcare sector representing 17 percent of all respondents.

Despite this lack of formal planning, 72 percent of organizations reported feeling more “cyber resilient” today than they were last year. Highly-resilient organizations (61 percent) attribute their confidence to their ability to hire skilled personnel—but organizations need both technology and people to be cyber resilient. In fact, 60 percent of respondents consider a lack of investment in AI and machine learning as the biggest barrier to cyber resilience.

This confidence may be misplaced, however, according to the researchers. The analysis revealed that 57 percent of respondents said the time to resolve an incident has increased, while 65 percent reported the severity of the attacks has increased. These areas represent some of the key factors impacting overall cyber resiliency. These problems are further compounded by just 31 percent of those surveyed having an adequate cyber resilience budget in place and difficulty retaining and hiring IT security professionals (77 percent).

The lack of a consistent cybersecurity incident response plan is a persistent trend each year despite a key finding from IBM’s 2017 Cost of a Data Breach Study. The cost of a data breach was nearly $1 million lower on average when organizations were able to contain the breach in less than thirty days— highlighting the value and importance of having a strong CSIRP.

Other takeaways from the study include:

  • Staffing for cyber resilience-related activities is inadequate
  • The second-biggest barrier to Cyber Resilience was having insufficient skilled personnel dedicated to cyber security.
  • 29 percent of respondents reported having ideal staffing to achieve cyber resilience.
  • 50 percent say their organization’s current CISO or security leader has been in place for three years or less. Twenty-three percent report they do not currently have a CISO or security leader.

“Organizations may be feeling more cyber resilient today, and the biggest reason why was hiring skilled personnel,” Ted Julian, vice president of product management and co-founder, IBM Resilient. “Having the right staff in place is critical but arming them with the most modern tools to augment their work is equally as important. A response plan that orchestrates human intelligence with machine intelligence is the only way security teams are going to get ahead of the threat and improve overall Cyber Resilience.”

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