April 07, 2015
Global Research from Accenture and Ponemon Institute Quantifies How Proactive Cyber Security Strategies Can Improve Security Effectiveness
NEW YORK; April 7, 2015 – New research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and the Ponemon Institute sheds light on the success factors of companies that have improved their cyber security strategies, resulting in quantifiable business benefits. The research shows that proactive strategies can improve and expand on value delivered to the business.
Of the nearly 240 companies surveyed as part of the global research, those with a more proactive security stance saw their security effectiveness score improve by an average of 53 percent over a two-year period, while non-proactive companies only achieved a change of 2 percent. The report, “The Cyber Security Leap: From Laggard to Leader,” looks at how companies can achieve better security performance while facing an ever-changing number of threats and is the result of a collaborative study conducted by Accenture and the Ponemon Institute.
The research focused on organizations that fit into one of two categories based on how they address security: ‘Leapfrog’ companies, which align security with business goals, focus on security innovation and proactively address potential cyber security threats; and ‘Static’ companies, which focus more on cyber security threat prevention and compliance.
For instance, 70 percent of Leapfrog companies have a company-sanctioned security strategy, compared with just 55 percent of Static companies. In addition, the report’s probability estimates indicate that the perceived likelihood of material data breaches have decreased over time by 36 percent for Leapfrog companies but only by 5 percent for Static companies.
The research outlines how Leapfrog organizations are more effective than Static organizations at addressing security across three important areas:
  • Strategy: Leapfrog companies establish a security strategy that places a high value on innovation and is aligned with business requirements. These companies see innovation as an important driver in developing sustainable strategies that adapt to keep pace with evolving business requirements to deliver effective security measures at scale, anywhere. Additionally, 62 percent of Leapfrog companies outsource core security operations in order to gain access to advanced technology and experience resources, versus 47 percent of Static companies.
  • Technology: Leapfrog companies seek to develop security capabilities that enhance the user experience and productivity. To do this, they look at technology that can facilitate the organization’s digital uptake and improve the ability to counter advanced threats. This consists of embracing disruptive technologies brought to light by business users, instead of restricting or locking down the use of newer technologies.
  • Governance: The report found that leapfrogging ahead in security effectiveness requires strong leadership and business alignment, with the correct governance measures in place. This may require that a company’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) have the authority to define and manage the company’s security strategy, with a direct communications channel to the CEO and the board. Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Leapfrog companies have a CISO tasked with defining security strategies and initiatives. Within Static organizations, governance and controls are less effective, and security is viewed as a trade-off with employee productivity.
“Our research shows that defending your business is a dynamic, strategic activity,” said Mike Salvino, group chief executive – Accenture Operations. “To protect the business, security measures must be both proactive and adaptive, allowing your customers in, but keeping threats at bay. These findings underscore our commitment to helping companies move into the Leapfrog category by building a strong cyber security presence based on intelligent, insight-driven security efforts that increase confidence and trust, and improve business performance.”
Larry Ponemon, CEO of the Ponemon Institute, said, “Companies looking to increase their security effectiveness can apply lessons learned from the Leapfrog companies to make a significant positive impact on their security.  Starting with the C-suite, it’s time to champion and achieve a strong stance on security–effectively communicating with all employees.  By holding everyone accountable for achieving security objectives, you will eliminate security silos within your organization.”
The full report is available at www.accenture.com/cybersecurity.
Research Methodology
To estimate the security posture of organizations, the Security Effectiveness Score (SES) was used as part of the survey process. The SES was developed by Ponemon Institute in its annual encryption trends survey to define the security effectiveness of responding organizations. It is derived from the rating of 48 security features or practices. 237 companies in various industries across the globe were surveyed for this report.
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 323,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$30.0 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2014. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
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Julie Bennink
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