Who owns the security budget? It’s not the CISO

Larry Ponemon

Larry Ponemon

Security risks are pervasive and becoming more difficult to prevent or minimize. Without the support of senior management, much needed investments in people, processes and technologies are not made. The findings of the research reveal the difficulty IT security practitioners face in achieving a stronger security posture because of inadequate budgets and the lack of C-level and boards of directors’ involvement in decisions related to IT security investments. This suggests the importance of IT security practitioners becoming more integral to their companies’ IT spending and investment process.

Ponemon Institute is pleased to present the 2015 Global Study on IT Security Spending & Investments. The purpose of this study is to understand how companies are investing in technologies, qualified personnel and governance practices to strengthen their security posture within the limitations of their budget.

We surveyed 1,825 IT management and IT security practitioners in the following global regions: North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), Asia, Pacific, Japan (APJ) and Latin America (LATAM) in a total of 42 countries. All respondents are involved to some degree in securing or overseeing the security of their organizations’ information systems or IT infrastructure.

They are also familiar with their organization’s budget process and/or spending on IT security activities. According to participants in this research, boards of directors and C-level executives are not often briefed and often not given necessary information to help them make informed budgeting decisions. As shown in Figure 1, 51 percent of respondents do not agree (34 percent) or are unsure (17 percent) that C-level executives are briefed on security priorities and what investments in technology and personnel need to be made.

Fully 64 percent of respondents do not agree (41 percent) or are unsure (23 percent) their boards of directors are made fully aware of security priorities and required investments. The study reveals the following problems with today’s approach to security spending and investments:

• The CEO and boards of directors are rarely believed to be most responsible for ensuring IT security objectives are achieved. Very few participants say their CEO or boards of directors are held most responsible for ensuring IT security objectives are met (6 percent and 3 percent of respondents, respectively). As a consequence of this lack of accountability, only 24 percent of respondents strongly agree that their organization sees security as one of the top two strategic priorities across the enterprise.

• Who owns the IT security budget? It is not the CISO. Only 19 percent of respondents say the IT security leader has control over how resources are allocated. Instead it is the CIO/CTO and business leaders who own the budget. This suggests the importance of security leaders learning how to influence these individuals if they are going to change how budgets are allocated.

• Security spending is not on the board’s agenda. Despite the increase in well-publicized security breaches, IT security investments are not getting the board’s attention and support. Without support from C-level executives and boards it is understandable that 50 percent of respondents say budgets will be flat or decreasing in the next two years.

• The budgeting process is too complex. The majority of respondents say the annual budget process is too complex (53 percent of respondents). This might lead to poor investment decisions such as purchasing technologies that do not lead to a stronger security posture or delayed investment in much needed resources.
• Many organizations are stuck in a middle stage of maturity. Necessary funding and proper planning are critical to move to a more mature security posture. Only 43 percent of respondents say their organizations’ IT security budgets are adequate and most security programs are only partially deployed.

• Companies are disappointed in technology purchases. According to the research, a lack of qualified personnel is undermining the effectiveness of technology solutions and the overall security posture of organizations. This is mainly because they don’t have the necessary in-house expertise and vendor support. Such buyer’s remorse may discourage companies from considering state-of-the art technologies.

• Compliance with regulations is difficult without adequate resources. The majority of respondents (58 percent of respondents) do not have sufficient resources to achieve compliance with security standards and laws. Non-compliance puts organizations at risk for legal action and fines.

Want to read the rest of this report?  Download it from Dell here. 

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