Chief information security officers (CISOs) and other security leaders are tasked with protecting the enterprise against a multitude of threats, including attacks from sophisticated and determined cybercriminals. They must do so in an environment of interlinked revolutions in technology such as the cloud, mobile devices and big data analytics.

It should come as no surprise, then, that security technology is a leading focus of CISO initiatives. Nor should it be shocking that these security leaders’ assessments of their own technological maturity varies widely. The greatest confidence is reserved for well-established technologies, while more reservations surround new technologies that enterprises are only now coming to grips with.

A Maturity Range in Security Technology

These are among the findings of IBM’s third annual CISO assessment, “Fortifying for the Future.”

At one end of the spectrum, 75 percent of respondents were confident in their organization’s ability to handle network intrusion prevention, while nearly just as many (73 percent) felt mature in dealing with advanced malware protection. Until quite recently, protecting the enterprise network against malware was practically synonymous with IT security.

On the other hand, security leaders are much less confident in the maturity of their own security technology when it comes to the cloud (54 percent) and mobile devices (51 percent). These new technologies — whose full impact are only now being felt — and their security concerns have drawn widespread attention.

Uncertainty also surrounds security intelligence analytics, with a 54 percent confidence in maturity. While automated governance, risk management and compliance (51 percent) are not new dimensions of security technology per se, they represent a moving target affected by new technologies.

While Technology Marches On

According to Channel Partners, even though concerns about cloud security remain widespread, these worries have not slowed cloud adoption by the enterprise. The advantages of the cloud are simply too great to ignore. Thus, one-third of IT chiefs report they have already migrated 50 percent to 70 percent of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The imperative to go mobile is just as great, though it is driven more by customers and employees. According to the CISO assessment, “in terms of maturity, mobile and device security ranked at the very bottom of technologies.” Security leaders in particular still struggle to come to grips with the bring-your-own-device trend within the enterprise, with all its messy complications for privacy and security.

Security leaders are not expecting magic bullets to solve their problems. A majority of respondents to the CISO assessment agreed they would have to meet challenges with existing security technology rather than anticipating dramatic new technologies.

Instead, their focus going forward will be on making the best use of existing technologies through security collaboration and adopting real-time security intelligence. This will let enterprises respond to attacks as they happen rather than being left to deal with the aftermath.

Insights from the 2014 CISO Assessment – See the infographic

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