Now more than ever organizations globally want to better understand, manage, and minimize security risks. To achieve this, security leaders should regularly assess their processes and programs to gain a sense of their organization’s security maturity, where gaps exist, and what can be done to improve security posture.
In March 2020, AT&T Cybersecurity and Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) completed a benchmark survey aimed at helping organizations understand what a mature cybersecurity program looks like and how that maturity influences security and business outcomes.
Results from the 500 security professionals surveyed on their processes, policies, and controls were mapped into the NIST Cybersecurity Framework’s (CSF) five foundational cybersecurity functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover.
The goal of this unique research was to validate if — and to what degree — organizations in better alignment with best practices prescribed by the NIST CSF can operate more secure environments and better enable their businesses. This was accomplished through the creation of a data-driven model that segments respondents into three levels of cybersecurity maturity:
- Emerging organizations
- Following organizations
- Leading organizations
By comparing survey results across these levels, the model allows us to use data to quantify the differences in security and business outcomes that exist as maturity level improves.
One of the more interesting findings that came out of the research (and quite hopeful), is that cybersecurity maturity is not directly dependent on company size. One might assume only the largest organizations, with the most resources, would be able to implement a cybersecurity program sophisticated enough to achieve “leader” status. However, the research shows that the median company size is identical across all three maturity levels – “leading,” “following,” and “emerging.”
The fact that there is no correlation between company size and maturity level indicates that doing cybersecurity well is less a function of resources and more a function of thoughtful consideration, planning, and organizational culture. While technology and staff investments matter, the research indicates that organizations of any size can achieve a highly mature cybersecurity program.
Another interesting point is that “leading” organizations have a big advantage in incident response and recovery from security incidents; 82% are very effective with incident response and 84% are very effective with recovery.
However, even “leading” organizations are not perfect. The research shows despite their attention to detail, they are not able to triage, investigate, or prioritize all security events/alerts. Nevertheless, 40% of “leading” organizations can successfully address about 90% of security events/alerts on a monthly basis. Cybersecurity can be difficult, as it requires continuous improvement and advanced skills. “Leading” organizations understand that meeting challenges and goals may be beyond the ability of the internal staff alone. Therefore, 94% use a managed service provider for some aspects of cybersecurity.
In addition to our research, AT&T Cybersecurity and ESG have developed a free self-assessment tool that enables organizations to measure their security maturity based on the survey’s benchmark data and the NIST cybersecurity framework. Based on your results, you’ll see customized recommendations to help improve your organization’s standing.