More than half of CIOs in the CIO 100 said their organisation had detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months, with a massive 95% responding security had risen up their management agenda — although not as many were seeing a corresponding increase in their budget to support this.
Some 56% of CIOs in the 2015 CIO 100 across industry — including local government, charities, retail, financial services, utilities, the NHS, media, universities, and manufacturing — responded they had detected a security breach in the last year, showing the cyber threat is a constant worry for CIOs whether you are supporting underprivileged children and aid workers worldwide, handling billions of pounds in financial assets, protecting intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry, selling top-end boutique men's fashion or serving millions of healthcare patients in the UK.
And while 19 in 20 said cyber security had risen up their management agenda and 91% responded that they felt their organisation fully understood the threat posed by cyber intrusions, 73% also revealed cyber concerns had led to an increase in their security budget.
John Dunn, security editor on CIO UK's sister title Techworld, said that the period "when security breaches were looked upon as a theoretical issue, a sort of worst case scenario that might come to pass but probably won't" was long gone, and that in particular the number of high-profile breaches since 2013 have punctured this complacency.
"It's no surprise that 95% of respondents said cybersecurity had risen up the organisational agenda," Dunn said, "nor that nine out of 10 have come to terms with the possible damage. But does this necessarily mean the issue is being taken seriously at last?
"Budgets appear to be rising — almost three quarters reported this — but still over half admitted to having detected an intrusion in the previous 12 months. Detection is always better than non-detection but the fact that half of those asked had suffered a breach, even one they know had occurred, is still extraordinary. That means that large numbers of firms are suffering anything from micro-breaches to more serious incidents."
Dunn noted that local government, the NHS and public sector bodies were well represented in the 27% who responded they would not be seeing more budget to deal with the cyber threat, and also that the CIO 100 revelations only really scratch the surface of the problem.
"As one might expect, things are a bit worse in the public sector, strapped for cash and under incredibly scrutiny," he said. "Nobody hear wants to fail, nor can afford the publicity that would bring. There is fear in the air.
"However, there is still no way of estimating the seriousness of these events. There is no way of gaining visibility on what is happening inside UK organisations; where breaches are covered by the Data Protection Act which is considered best practice.
"Until we gain that visibility through mandated reporting to someone, even if anonymous, the outside world has no way of understanding the size of the problem faced by the economy."
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