While December ushers in festive moods and the spirit of giving, there are some things companies don’t want to be on the receiving end of — namely a security breach. Luckily, the IBM Center for Applied Insights and IBM Security have gift-wrapped something much better: their annual CISO Assessment, with this year’s edition focusing on how security leaders can prepare for an uncertain future.

Fortifying for the Future: Insights From the 2014 IBM CISO Assessment

The assessment acknowledges the continuing issues for security leaders, details their expectations for the future, conveys direct advice through case studies and provides recommendations for managing security uncertainty.

The study first takes a snapshot of the 2014 security leader and his or her emerging role, concerns and areas of focus within his or her business. The findings are consistent with previous iterations of the study; as the role of security leaders continues to evolve, they gain more influence within their organization but also face growing challenges.

Insights from the 2014 CISO Assessment – See the infographic

External threats are particularly troubling for security — more so than in previous years. Beyond external threats, security leaders are also occupied with the limited maturity of mobile security, the expansion of device use and user needs, working together inside and outside their organization and the uncertain impact of government regulation and industry standards. So what is a CISO to do?

The recommendations from the IBM Center for Applied Insights align with the demonstrated areas of need. Within the enterprise, the study suggests shoring up cloud, mobile and data security. These vital areas still need maturation, according to the assessment. Security leaders must also enhance their education and leadership skills to ensure a strong voice in the business and a knowledgeable workforce.

A thorough security program involves taking the right steps externally as well. Therefore, security leaders should engage more outside of their organizations. By taking more of an ecosystem approach to security, businesses can build more comprehensive defenses. Finally, because of the uncertainty, security leaders need to be prepared for regulatory changes, whatever they prove to be.

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