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Organisations falling behind on security preparedness, mindset shift required

By Catherine Knowles, Wed 29 Sep 2021

New thinking on cybersecurity policies, processes, people and products are necessary for organisations to reverse perceptions, and perhaps realities, that they are falling behind in their preparedness.

This is according to a new report from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.

CompTIA’s ‘2021 State of Cybersecurity’ report, based on a recent survey of business and IT professionals, examines current cybersecurity strategies and outlines the tactics needed to elevate a cybersecurity presence to meet today’s threats.

CompTIA senior director for technology analysis Seth Robinson says, “Complexity is the common theme across the cybersecurity landscape.

"As a result, organisations must approach cybersecurity with a completely different mindset. Practices considered good enough in the recent past are no longer sufficient.”

Three in 10 survey respondents said they are “completely satisfied” with their organisation’s approach to cybersecurity, while 27% feel the general state of cybersecurity is “improving dramatically.”

The cybersecurity issues organisations must consider are complex and numerous, CompTIA states.

Top of mind for companies are the volume and variety of attacks, cited by 49% and 43% of respondents, respectively.

Privacy concerns (40%), greater reliance on data (38%) and quantifying security issues (34%) are other factors companies must account for when developing cybersecurity policies, implementing new practices and making investments.

The emerging mindset on cybersecurity has as its foundation the concept of zero trust. Rather than assuming that network traffic or user access is harmless due to origin or credentials, zero trust requires verification at every step, CompTIA states.

The report acknowledges that a shift to a zero trust policy is likely to be a more expensive than other approaches.

Among companies in CompTIA’s survey currently pursuing a zero trust architecture, 75% have found that more investment is required for zero trust than for their previous cybersecurity initiatives.

Processes to implement the cybersecurity policy are the next step. Security monitoring (49%), workforce assessments and education (41%) and threat intelligence (41%) are among the processes most often used today.

While most companies focus their monitoring on traditional cyber threats such as viruses and malware, there is interest in improving knowledge around phishing, ransomware, firmware hacking, IP spoofing and other new types of attacks, the survey finds.

While supply chain attacks have grabbed recent headlines ransomware continues to be a significant threat, with the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack estimated at $1.85 million.

The use of workforce assessments and education is a reminder that the weakest link in cybersecurity continues to be humans, CompTIA finds.

While not every employee requires the same level of cybersecurity knowledge and training, companies are keenly aware that skills must be kept current and relevant. Approximately four out of ten companies feel that they need significant improvement in skill levels.

Complexity also extends to the toolbox of cybersecurity products available to organisations.

Antivirus software (54%) and firewalls (52%) remain the most commonly deployed solutions, with both becoming more robust in the protections they provide.

Other products that are getting a closer look are password managers (44%), identity and access management tools (43%) and security information and event management solutions (41%).

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