Cyber-Security Incident Response Plans Lacking, IBM Reports

eWEEK DATA POINTS: IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute asked global IT executives what they do to keep their organizations cyber-resilient and discovered interesting insights about the state of modern cyber-security.

IBM cyber-resilience

Defending against potential cyber-attacks isn't just about prevention; it's also about having the resilience to respond and recover.

Unfortunately, the majority of organizations aren't properly prepared for cyber-security incident response, according to the 2019 Study on the Cyber Resilient Organization, released on April 11 by IBM Security. The report was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and is based on a global survey of 3,655 IT security professionals from around the world.

In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at some of the key highlights from the study and what positive steps organizations can and should be taking to help improve cyber-resilience.

Data Point No. 1: Most organizations do not have a consistent incident response plan.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents admitted that their organization does not have a cyber-security incident response plan applied consistently across the enterprise. 

"Although cyber-security is a high priority, often considered alongside other major business, we were surprised how few organizations reported having response plans in place," Ted Julian, vice president of product management and co-founder of IBM Resilient, told eWEEK. "Given advancements in others areas of incident response, this is particularly baffling and worth investigating next year."

Data Point No. 2: Even organizations with incident response plans aren't doing it right.

The report found that among organizations that have an incident response plan, 54 percent do not test their plans regularly (or at all) to ensure they hold up and that they are prepared for their worst day.

Data Point No. 3: Intelligence and threat sharing are key to improving cyber-resilience.

  • 53 percent of respondents identified intelligence and threat sharing as security technologies that are most effective in their ability to achieve cyber-resilience.
  • In contrast, only 20 percent of respondents identified artificial intelligence (AI) as being most effective for cyber-resilience.

Data Point No. 4: Skill issues are still a problem in cyber-security.

  • 75 percent of respondents rate their difficulty in hiring and retaining skilled cyber-security personnel as moderately high to high.
  • Only 30 percent of respondents reported that their cyber-security staffing is sufficient to achieve a high level of cyber-resilience.

Data Point No. 5: Many are not yet GDPR compliant.

  • Although all organizations doing business in the European Union were supposed to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, that has yet to occur.
  • 46 percent of the survey's respondent admitted that their organization has yet to realize full compliance with GDPR.

Data Point No. 6: Automation is the key to better incident response.

Less than half of organizations that use automation extensively (48 percent) had a data breach versus the 55 percent who did in the overall sample. 

"This is the first year that we asked about the automation of security response processes, and we were pleased to see that it has begun," Julian said. "We expect to see wider adoption next year, particularly given the positive effects reported by high adopters this year." 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.