‘Lack of investments in GRC holding back cyber security maturity’

How exactly are enterprises managing and mitigating their IT risks?

A survey from MetricStream, which covered 139 respondents from 120+ enterprises and 20 industries across more than six geographic regions, sought to answer this question by examining the maturity of IT risk management programmes, methods used to assess IT risks, impact of IT regulations and the role of technology in managing IT risks.

IT GRC solutions as maturity enablers

Respondents were asked to rate their IT risk management maturity on the 5 level Capability Maturity Model Integration Scale (CMMI).

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75% of the respondents who have implemented IT GRC solutions reported a CMMI maturity level of 3 or higher. In comparison, only 38% of the respondents who have not implemented IT GRC solutions reported a similar level of maturity – these organisations rely on a combination of spreadsheets, point solutions, and other tools which, going by the survey results, may not be as effective as IT GRC solutions in improving the maturity of IT risk management programmes.

Top IT threats

The top five IT threats and risks that respondents reported in the last two years are malware infections, security breaches, compliance violations and regulatory actions, account phishing, and spoofs of company executives.

Potential vulnerabilities

Respondents reported relatively high levels of maturity (CMMI level 3 or higher) in IT risk identification and assessments, standardised documentation of processes and controls, control design and assessments, and IT risk monitoring and reporting.

However, when it came to IT risk management training, 51% of the respondents, and 52% of those in banking and financial services, reported a CMMI maturity of only level 1 or level 2.

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This lack of maturity could prove disastrous, as poorly trained employees fall prey more easily to social engineering attacks such as phishing which, in turn, open the door to larger attacks on enterprise security.

Despite these risks — and the fact that account phishing and spoofing were cited among the top 5 enterprise IT threats — it appears that respondents are not investing enough in employee training programmes or better information governance frameworks.

Instead, their top three priorities over the next 18 months are investments in IT security solutions, compliance with government regulations, and IT security data aggregation and business reporting through a common application.

Emerging tech

The report found that 44% of large-sized enterprises cited internet of things (IoT) technologies, and 35% cited the cloud as having the most potential to disrupt IT risk management programmes in the next three years.

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Top areas for improvement

Respondents in Europe, the US, and Canada cited compliance with government regulations as the top area for improvement in their IT risk management programmes over the next 18 months. In the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, the focus is on investments in IT security solutions.

“Guarding against the next Equifax-style cyber-attack will require enterprises to have holistic, agile IT risk management programmes,” said French Caldwell, chief evangelist, MetricStream.

“An IT GRC software solution can really add value by automating workflows, and providing timely risk intelligence to guide decisions. However, it’s just one piece of the pie. Policies, training programmes, and information governance frameworks are all equally important. Together, they lay the foundation for a resilient and secure enterprise.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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