News Risk Management27 Jun 2018

Most boards not confident their organisations learn from past cyber mistakes-WTW

27 Jun 2018

The majority of executives around the world feel their organisations can do better when it comes to learning from their past cyber mistakes, according to the results of a newly released global survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Willis Towers Watson.

The EIU surveyed over 450 companies worldwide about their strategies and the challenges they face in building cyber resilient organisations.  While most organisations regard themselves as doing a good job on incident response, only 13% said their organisations were above average in incorporating learnings from cyber incidents into resilience strategies.          

The survey found little consensus among boards and executives on cyber resiliency planning, including the deployment of strategies across the organisation, where to allocate funds, and what areas of the organisation are most at risk.

The split in cyber preparedness was also apparent across geographies, as North American companies contrast strongly with their peers in Asia and, to some extent, the EU on issues such as expectations for frequency and impact of cyber-attacks, and confidence in their ability to recover from a breach.

Interestingly, of the four regions surveyed (North America, UK, Europe and Asia), the UK had the highest rate of perceived cyber resiliency at 21%.            

Some other key findings of the report include:

  • The average corporate cyber resilience spend was about 1.7% of revenue, and 96%of board members believe that isn’t enough
  • North America spent the highest on cyber-resilience as a percent of revenue (2-3%), whereas the other regions spent between 1-2% or less
  • UK (41%) and North American (40%) firms were attacked far greater than those in other regions.
  • Far more North American firms (45%) also expressed confidence in their capabilities to repair the damage and proceed with business as usual compared to Asia which comes in at the lowest (21%)
  • Asia had the fewest (17%) companies with director-level cyber expertise, and even fewer (9%) saw the need to bring cyber expertise on their boards.
  • Among executives, there is little consensus on how to allocate cyber budgets – but very close responses were given between “technology to harden cyber-defenses” and “IT talent acquisition, skills training/development” 
  • Three out of the four regions believe that the “board as a whole” should oversee cyber risk, while Europe disagreed saying it should be a dedicated cyber group.

“It’s important for companies to understand that achieving cyber resiliency is a company-wide imperative, one that shouldn’t be sequestered to certain roles or functions,” says Anthony Dagostino, global head of cyber risk with Willis Towers Watson. “Boards should emphasise the need for a strategic framework, and the C-Suite should set the tone within their organisations by empowering stakeholders, such as IT, Risk, HR, legal and compliance to drive an integrated risk management and resiliency strategy.

“While technology will remain a crucial defense, more than half of cyber incidents are attributable to employee behavior and talent deficits in cybersecurity roles, so investing in other areas such as human capital solutions and cyber insurance have to become part of regular board and C-Suite conversations.” 

The 452 companies surveyed range in size from $100m in annual revenue to more than $25bn. 150 of the companies are in North America (the US and Canada), 150 in Asia (75 each in Tokyo and Singapore) and a third in Europe (100 in the UK and 52 spread across France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands). Respondents are widely distributed across industries: manufacturing and technology (12% each), retail and construction/real estate (10% each) and financial services (9%) are the largest sectors.

The survey report can be found here.

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