Executive awareness of IT risk management has surged in past year: Gartner

Non-IT executives are rapidly becoming more aware and supportive of the need for effective IT security and Asia-Pacific companies are leading the world in this trend, according to new figures from research group Gartner.

Fully 71 percent of respondents indicated that IT risk management data is influencing strategic corporate decisions at the board level – a strong result that vice president and Gartner fellow Tom Scholtz attributed to the growth in publicity around high-profile cyber-breaches.

“Increasing awareness of the impact of digital business risks, coupled with high levels of publicity regarding cybersecurity incidents, are making IT risk a board-level issue,” he said in a statement. “This also reflects an increasing focus on dealing with IT risk as a part of corporate governance.”

Gartner's latest annual end-user survey for privacy, IT risk management, information security, business continuity or regulatory compliance elicited responses from 964 medium and large-sized businesses in seven countries earlier this year.

The new survey also found that 63 percent of security programs were sponsored and supported by business leaders outside of the IT organisation. This was a big jump from the 54 percent figure last year, with steering committee sponsorship jumping from 7 percent to 12 percent in the same time.

Fully 67 percent of Asia-Pacific organisations had implemented extra-IT sponsorship, compared with just 57 percent in North America – suggesting a maturity in risk awareness that Scholtz said would be reflected in the growing diversity of corporate information security steering committees (CISSCs).

“Because a CISSC should consist primarily of business representatives, we expect that the level of sponsorship from such bodies will continue to increase as governance functions continue to mature,” he said. “An effective governance forum becomes the authoritative representative of the CEO, the board and the senior business unit managers.”

Despite the gains at the senior executive level, the survey also found slow going in other areas: just 30 percent of respondents said their business units are actively involved in developing policies that affect the business.

While this is up from 16 percent in 2014, “it still indicates a lack of active engagement with the business,” the firm's analysis warned.

“This lack of engagement is a major cause of different risk views between the security team and the business, which can result in redundant and mismanaged controls, which in turn result in unnecessary audit findings and ultimately in reduced productivity.”

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

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Tags information securityGartnerIT SecurityIT risk managementCSO Australiacyber-breachesTom Scholtzcorporate information security steering committees (CISSCs)strategic corporate decisions

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