Why large organizations still struggle with decade-old security problems — and how to fix them
I have been involved with information security matters for over 20 years and started writing regularly on the topic in 2015.
Talking to CISOs, CIO, CEOs and their teams as part of my day-to-day field work as consultant, I was horrified by what I was seeing in too many large corporates in terms of security maturity levels and the actual problems some were still struggling with – something that goes way beyond anecdotal evidence and is at the heart of survey after survey every year.
After all, information security good practices have been well established for over 20 years and many industry bodies have been promoting them and evolving them throughout that period.
Why is it that large firms which have had fully functioning information security teams in place all that time, and have spent – collectively – hundreds of millions on the topic if not more on cyber security, are still struggling today with issues – such as patch management – which should have been on their radar for over 10 years?
There is truly a cyber security lost decade for many between the CodeRed, Slammer and Blaster outbreaks of 2001–2003 and the Wannacry and Not Petya attacks of 2017.
By failing to get the basics right in terms of security during that time while continuing to engage in massive cloud-driven business transformation programmes which have turned the enterprise into a truly borderless hybrid, many large firms have dramatically increased their level of exposure to cyber threats. And now the acceleration of the digital transformation emboldened by the COVID crisis – which has also heightened cyber threats – is making things even more complex. And politicians and regulators are now involved as the GDPR and CCPA have shown us over the past few years, now with privacy legislations building up across the U.S. and worldwide.
At Board level, the “when-not-if” paradigm around cyber-attacks has taken root, but it creates fundamentally different dynamics for CISOs and CIOs, as the focus shifts radically from risk and compliance towards execution and delivery, often in exchange of massive investments around security (at least pre-COVID).
To embed those different dynamics around cyber security and make true progress, large organisations must stop thinking of the topic in pure technological terms, look back and address urgently the underlying cultural and governance issues that have been the true roadblocks of that “lost decade”.
This is the theme I have been developing over the past 6 years through my contribution to the Corix Partners blog and we offer you in this book a selection of articles published between February 2015 and August 2021, in collaboration with Neil Cordell, Natasha McCabe and Vincent Viers.
They frame our reflexion on those matters and offer – we think – elements of solution to start changing the narrative around cyber security.
Most articles would have been reposted on Linkedin and syndicated on Medium and other blogs or websites such as “CIO Water Cooler” or “Business 2 Community”. I would like to take the opportunity here to thank them for their support.
Overall, many thanks to all – clients, partners, friends – who have been at the heart of this body of work.
I am delighted to launch the 2021 edition today, our 5th edition, and you can now buy it here on Blurb. I hope readers will find its content thought-provoking and that it will help some move forward.
31 August 2021