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More Than Half of Organizations Filter Out Negative Facts Before Communicating Security Risk to C-Level Executives

Companies mentioned in this article: FireMon

OVERLAND PARK, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 04/15/14 -- FireMon, the leading provider of proactive security intelligence solutions, today announced the results of a new study by the Ponemon Institute that exposes a severe gap in security visibility and perception between C-level executives and IT security staff -- due in part to an organizational inability and lack of real-time intelligence to adapt to, and understand the impact of, change. The starkest findings are that in nearly 60 percent of the organizations participating, responsibility for managing the impact of business or technology change on security posture resides with C-Level executives (CSO, CISO, CIO, CTO, etc.), and in 66 percent of the organizations surveyed, executive and Board perception of security is "high." However, the information on which that perception is based is disturbingly incomplete, with 60 percent of IT security staff informing executives of specific risks only when the risk is deemed "serious," or not at all -- and in more than half of the cases, actively omitting negative facts.

The study surveyed 597 individuals who work in IT, IT security, compliance, risk management and other related fields at Fortune 500 class organizations with 1,000 or more employees. All respondents are involved in IT security management activities in their organizations. They also are involved in assessing or managing the impact of change on their organization's IT security operations.

In the shadow of the historic Target breach, and the revelation that Target management ignored security alerts, the findings could not be more telling, and they go to the core of what appears to be an endemic issue across every industry. Study author, Dr. Larry Ponemon, stated, "What is most concerning is that it would seem security in many organizations is based on perception and 'gut feel,' versus hard data. The stakeholders with the highest responsibility seem to be the least informed -- a view that is amplified externally. We also found that executive perception of security 'strength' had a virtually identical percentage (63 percent) in external partners, and we know that third-party failings also had a hand in the Target breach."

Diving more deeply into the specific numbers, it quickly becomes apparent that the root causes of the broken communication and resulting vulnerability lie in an organizational inability to accommodate change and accurately set, measure and improve metrics to manage its impact, specifically:

  • While a vast majority (74 percent) sees security metrics as important, 69 percent see an issue of metrics conflicting with business goals and 62 percent feel that current metrics don't provide enough information.
  • More than 40 percent see Cloud and mobility/BYOD as the technologies with the greatest impact on security effectiveness. Yet, specific to Cloud, 46 percent say that current metrics can't quantify the full security impact of Cloud models.
  • This inexact measurement of change leads IT security staff to rate their agility (57 percent) and effectiveness (56 percent) to accommodate change as "low." As a result, 64 percent rate their organization's overall security posture as "moderate" or "low."

"The biggest issue is that IT security teams are flying blind," said Jody Brazil, president and CTO of FireMon. "Networks are becoming more complex and expansive, while we freeze or reduce the resources tasked with managing them. The fact that the study shows 60 percent performing manual auditing or none at all is alarming. In a threat environment that is 'always on' and aggressive, teams must have the ability to automate and continuously monitor and assess dynamic network environments, and be equipped with proactive tools to provide predictive and prioritized intelligence on an ever-shifting risk profile."

A copy of the report detailing the Ponemon survey findings, methodology and questionnaire can be downloaded at http://content.firemon.com/PonemonSecurityMetricsAndChangeSurveyResults.

Mr. Brazil and Dr. Ponemon will also host a webcast to discuss the key results from the research study. The webcast, titled "Security Metrics to Manage Change: Which Matter, Which Can Be Measured?" will take place Thursday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. To register or to learn more about this webcast please visit: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/11115/107789?autoclick=true.

About FireMon
FireMon is the industry leader in proactive security intelligence solutions that deliver continuous control of infrastructure, policy and IT risk for large organizations. The FireMon Security Intelligence Platform is a massively scalable, high performance foundation for network risk detection, change workflow automation, firewall rule base clean-up, compliance audit assessment and security operations cost reduction. For more information, visit http://www.firemon.com.

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For more information, please contact:
Nick Rossetti
CHEN PR
781-672-3141
nrossetti@chenpr.com