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Majority of firms unsure who should manage cyber security

The majority of executives worldwide are not sure who should be in charge of their firm’s cyber resilience, with most facing a “specialist or generalist” dilemma.

10 SEPT 2018 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
Widespread uncertainty on cyber threat responsibility ©Shutterstock
Widespread uncertainty on cyber threat responsibility ©Shutterstock


That is according to new research from Willis Towers Watson (WLTW), which shows that almost 40% of executives feel the board should be responsible for cyber.

However, almost a quarter think the role should be given to a specialised committee, while others believe responsibility lies with audit, risk, or another subgroup.

Moreover, it was found that just 8% believe their chief information security officer (CISO) performs “above average” in communicating the consequences of cyber threats.

WLTW global head of cyber risk, Anthony Dagostino, said the problem was that many CISOs struggle translating security threats into operational and financial impacts.

“To close this communication gap, CISOs need tools that can help them quantify and translate the vulnerabilities uncovered from their cyber security maturity assessments,” he continued. 

“These tools enable them to better communicate the risk to the board, seek adequate budget, and enable the board to provide meaningful guidance”.

The research involved a survey of executives from over 450 companies, finding that three out of four regions believe the “board as a whole” should oversee cyber risk.

Most European firms think a dedicated cyber group should be responsible, while the UK was the only region where the heads of cyber report to the board rather than the CEO.

It was also found that just 30% of executives believe they have enough directors that understand cyber risks, but that only 23% are actively recruiting directors that do.

Despite the widespread uncertainty, WLTW found that around two-thirds of companies believe a partnership between human resources and information security is key.

“Still, organisations need greater collaboration to truly assess the organisational culture driving cyber risk in the first instance,” Dagostino continued.

“The solution isn’t always more training. It could be a leadership or incentives and rewards issue, things that fall squarely within the function of the chief human resources officer.” 

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