Australian information security posture weak by world standards: Cisco

Organisations in Australia are lagging their Western counterparts in terms of the sophistication of their information-security protections, according to Cisco Systems' latest global security review.

The company's 2015 Annual Security Report, released this month, broke down the relative sophistication of security defences and found that just 30 percent of Australian respondents had security processes rated as being highly sophisticated.

By contrast, 41 percent of UK companies, 38 percent of Italian companies, 54 percent of Indian companies, and 44 percent of American companies were rated as having a high degree of sophistication when it comes to security processes.

Some 9 percent of Australian companies were classified as having low security sophistication – the worst result of the countries compared within the report; Italy and Germany (1 percent), Brazil (2 percent), the US and China (3 percent) and other countries had a lower proportion than Australia.

The self-assessments highlighted what Cisco Global Security Sales Organisation sales manager Anthony Stitt told CSO Australia was a “meaningful disparity” between CISOs' perception of their levels of protection and what the organisation's security operations team believe is their preparedness for attack.

“We still see basic mistakes being made like lack of patching, user behaviour and general [weaknesses],” Stitt explained, blaming in part the broad gaps between security tools with which organisations have been trying to address their security needs.

“When you look at the typical organisation and the plethora of tools they would need to put in place to protect themselves, it has become a problem in itself,” Stitt said.

“There are too many tools, and they don't integrate well together. There has been a tradeoff between having a security architecture and the best of breed elements that make that up.”

There were signs, however, that Australian organisations were improving the sophistication of their security solutions: some 35 percent of organisations were evaluated as being in the low-to-mid sophistication category, sitting level with Brazil and just behind Japan (40 percent).

This category was the largest for Australia, suggesting that many organisations had improved their processes significantly from baseline, even if they had not reached the top tier of security maturity.

Other countries were concentrated at the middle-sophistication tier, with more businesses in countries like Germany (57 percent), the US (27 percent), and China (32 percent) found to be in the middle tier of security process sophistication. Some 19 percent of Australian organisations, by contrast, fell into this category.

The Cisco report also broke down security sophistication by industry, concluding that the utilities/energy and telecommunications industries were the most sophisticated, with 47 percent of companies in each industry held to have a high level of sophistication.

Government, healthcare and non computer-related manufacturing each had 43 percent of companies in the highest level of security sophistication, while transportation (35 percent), pharmaceuticals (31 percent) and chemical engineering (25 percent) filled out the bottom of the chart.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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