Benchmarks for 2020: Three Goals for CISOs in the Coming Year

Recommendations include increasing collaboration, reducing complexity, and covering off on basics.

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As the attack landscape expands, CISOs must become more strategic and proactive.

“They’re already dealing with very porous infrastructures that result from the business building products and services quickly without input from security teams,” says Wolfgang Goerlich, CISO Advisor with Cisco.

Also, the pace of business hasn’t slowed. Cloud, digital transformation, and mobile services have all contributed to what he calls “legacy debt,” with CISOs working hard to gain control.

Combined with the growing sophistication of cyber-attacks, these challenges make it imperative for organizations to have an overarching security strategy.

“Companies need an adaptive, flexible perimeter with realistic security controls,” Goerlich advises.

To that end, here are three goals for CISOs this year toward that security strategy, based on key takeaways from the Cisco 2020 CISO Benchmark Study.

Goal #1: Increase collaboration among security and networking teams.

There is evidence that united efforts remain at high levels, according to Cisco’s study:

  • 91% of respondents report their network and security teams are very or extremely collaborative
  • 87% say collaboration between endpoint and security teams also remains high

“It’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Goerlich says. “Security is a team sport, where collaboration can help organizations gain a clear picture of actions to take.”

CISOs should seek solutions that inherently integrate and automate security workflows to increase collaborative efforts, while also reducing redundant or overlapping tasks.

Goal #2: Reduce complexity by seeking integration.

Legacy debt is causing some organizations to spiral into security burnout, Cisco survey respondents say:

  • 86% of organizations use up to 20 different security products
  • 42% are suffering from cybersecurity fatigue, virtually giving up on proactively defending against malicious actors
  • 17% receive 100,000 or more security alerts daily

“I was surprised by the sheer volume of alerts that organizations are dealing with,” Goerlich says. “It’s no wonder that SecOps teams are being pushed to fatigue.”

Simplification is key, he says. “We need to reduce the time to detect and remediate incidents, and look at it like a game of minutes. Integration and automation are crucial to enabling this.”

By adopting integrated security solutions, CISOs not only simplify their security environments, they can achieve improved outcomes.

Goal #3: Take care of the basics and look ahead to Zero Trust.

“We have to pay attention to cyber hygiene,” Goerlich says. According to the Cisco study:

  • 46% of organizations suffered a security incident caused by an unpatched vulnerability
  • 38% of breaches caused by an unpatched vulnerability resulted in losses of 10,000 or more records

“We need to keep an up-to-date inventory of devices in our environments, and perform a risk analysis for any missing patches,” he says.

Goerlich realizes that creating and maintaining a full inventory is challenging; that’s why looking toward Zero Trust implementation is the next step.

The Zero Trust model emphasizes not trusting anything inside or outside the organization’s perimeters, and thus verifying everything.

“Within five years, Zero Trust will be fundamental,” Goerlich says. “It’s a model that is gaining maturity because tying security to identity makes a whole lot of sense.”

The bottom line

Between the growing sophistication of threats and IT complexity, it’s imperative for CISOs to seek integrated tools.

“Simplification and collaboration are crucial to reducing time to detect and remediate, as well as reducing all the noise from security alerts,” Goerlich says.

Start integrating today; visit the Cisco Security website for more information.

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