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New Research Reveals Top Five Impediments to Cybersecurity Framework Implementation

January 5, 2017

Columbia, MD

Survey of U.S. and European security managers and executives shows effective adoption of security controls leads to increased compliance and measurable security improvements

Tenable Network Security®, Inc., a global leader in cybersecurity, and the Center for Internet Security® (CIS), a nonprofit that harnesses the power of the global IT community to safeguard private and public organizations against cyber threats, released findings today from their co-sponsored Cybersecurity Frameworks and Foundational Security Controls Survey, which shows 95 percent of organizations face significant challenges when implementing leading cybersecurity frameworks.

The survey tallied responses from more than 300 primarily U.S. and European IT security decision makers from organizations of various sizes and representing 15 industry verticals to better understand the adoption and maturity of cybersecurity frameworks and their underlying security controls. According to survey data, three out of the top five impediments to cybersecurity framework implementation were technological in nature, suggesting a need for software solutions that can automate and simplify cybersecurity framework adoption.

The top five impediments to cybersecurity framework implementation were reported as follows:

  1. Lack of trained staff
  2. Lack of necessary tools to automate controls
  3. Lack of budget
  4. Lack of appropriate tools to audit continuous effectiveness of controls
  5. Lack of integration among tools

“Cybersecurity frameworks are a good way for IT security professionals to create a solid baseline for measuring security effectiveness and to meet compliance requirements, but it can be a challenge to do this without the tools, talent and support from executive leadership,” said Cris Thomas, strategist, Tenable Network Security. “Having the proper tools and intuitive reporting features in place not only improves overall cybersecurity, but also can help organizations eliminate some of the staffing and budget problems by automating the implementation and integration of their security frameworks.”

Despite reported obstacles, respondents who have adopted security frameworks see clear benefits, including compliance with contractual obligations (47 percent), achieving measurable security improvements (43 percent), improved maturity and effectiveness of security operations (43 percent) and the ability to more effectively demonstrate security readiness to business leadership (41 percent).

While comprehensive framework adoption can be time-intensive, notable progress is possible within specifically defined timeframes. In fact, survey data show that among companies that have started adopting a cybersecurity framework more than a year ago, 35 percent have automated 11 or more of the 15 foundational subcontrols. Even among those who have begun framework adoption less than a year ago, 25 percent of organizations have automated six or more subcontrols — an increase of 15 percentage points — indicating signs of continued improvement.

“A resilient cybersecurity program starts with a strong foundation of actions found in every cybersecurity framework, like having control of hardware and software assets, continuous assessment of vulnerabilities, and control of administrative privileges,” said Tony Sager, senior vice president and chief evangelist of CIS. “Based on this survey, we know security pros are working hard to put these controls in place, but they are still struggling to get resources and management support to move beyond human-intensive controls and paper policies. We need to accelerate moving toward automation of these controls as organizations continue to adopt industry frameworks. Additionally, many organizations are successfully using the CIS Controls as a management tool to help them succeed with their adopted frameworks.”

To learn more about the survey findings, including the challenges and benefits associated with adoption of the first five CIS Controls, register for the upcoming webinar "Achieving Effective Cyber Hygiene with CIS Critical Security Controls" at 2:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, hosted by Ted Gary of Tenable and Tony Sager of CIS.

For more information on the survey findings and to download an infographic, videos, and additional assets, check out the Foundational Controls Adoption LookBook.

About the Center for Internet Security

CIS, CISecurity.org, is a forward-thinking, nonprofit entity that harnesses the power of a global IT community to safeguard private and public organizations against cyber threats. Our CIS Controls and Security Benchmarks are the global standards and recognized best practices for securing IT systems and data against the most pervasive attacks. The proven guidelines are continually refined and verified by a volunteer, global community of experienced IT professionals. CIS is home to the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC®), the go-to resource for cyber threat prevention, protection, response, and recovery for state, local, tribal and territorial governments.

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