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Lack Of Funding Stymies State CISOs

Governors, other state officials more aware of cyber threats, but confidence gap exists between IT and business managers, new Deloitte-National State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) study finds.

State chief information security officers (CISOs) have become an integral part of government operations, but they struggle to obtain the resources they need to combat ever-evolving cyber threats, according to a new study.

Eighty-percent of the respondents in the recently-released "2016 Deloitte-National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Cybersecurity Study" say inadequate funding is one of the top barriers to effectively address cybersecurity threats, while more than half (51%) cite inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals.

Most states’ cybersecurity budgets are relatively low, hovering between zero- and two percent of their overall information technology budget, according to the survey, which was released on today at the NASCIO annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

State CISOs say the top five barriers to effectively address cybersecurity challenges are: lack of sufficient funding (80%), inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals (51%), lack of documented processes (45%), increasing sophistication of threats (45%), and lack of visibility and influence within the enterprise (33%). Interestingly, in 2014 when Deloitte and NASCIO last surveyed state CIOs/CISO, 61% of the respondents cited the "growing sophistication of threats" as a barrier to addressing cybersecurity challenges.

Governors and other state officials are more aware of cyber threats and receive more frequent updates from CIOs and CISOs, but still there exists a confidence gap between IT and business managers. This gap reflects the need for infosec professionals to have the ability to better communicate the risks of cyber threats.  

"We continue to see there is a confidence gap between the CIOs and CISOs and the business leaders," says Srini Subramanian, principal with Deloitte & Touche LLP and state government cyber risk services leader. "The business leaders actually think the states are in a better state than what the CIOs and CISOs are thinking in terms of their ability to take on external cyber threats. The business leaders don't understand all of the risks," he says. So state CIOs/CISOs have to do a better job of communicating the risks, he adds.

Several years ago, cybersecurity was seen as a technical function of IT, but now cabinet secretaries and state officials realize their agencies are critical components of the cybersecurity mission, says Darryl Ackley, NASCIO president and cabinet secretary and CIO for the New Mexico Department of Information Technology.

"I live day-to-day with the cyber mission, securing the state's networks," he says. Many of New Mexico's cabinet secretaries started to realize their role in helping to protect agencies from cyber-attacks after attending a National Governors' Conference in San Jose, Calif., a few years ago that highlighted cybersecurity.

To be effective, cybersecurity has to be operationalized, Ackley says. "It is a policy issue. It also is a behavior issue as much as a technical issue," he says. "We are trying to maintain the momentum by continuing to involve our public safety, emergency management, and security officials as well as technical components in agencies [to let them know] they can't just depend on us. They have to be participants."

According to the Deloitte survey, a formal cybersecurity strategy and better communication lead to a greater command of resources. "When CISOs develop and document strategies—and get those strategies approved—they can command greater budgets and attract or build staff with the necessary competencies," the report says. In fact, 16 out of 33 states with an approved strategy reported they had an increase in budget.

An approved and proactively communicated strategy can also help CISOs overcome another barrier: "lack of visibility and influence in the enterprise," according to the report.

"The states are starting to focus on more consistent priorities in terms of what CISOs are doing and CISOs are starting to look at areas they can control," Subramanian says.

CISOs are focusing on areas where they can take proactive steps to better manage risks. Some of the top areas CISOs say are within their purview include audit logs and security event monitoring, strategy and planning, and vulnerability management, according to the survey.

An emerging trend is the implementation of identity and access management solutions. For example, more states in 2016 (47%) than in 2014 (33%) have an enterprise IAM solution that covers some or all of the agencies under the governor's jurisdiction.

However, CISOs continue to struggle with the implementation of enterprise IAM solutions, including the complexity of integrating with legacy systems (67%), competing or higher priority initiatives (57%), the states' decentralized IT environment (47%), cost of implementation (39%), and inadequate funding to support enterprise deployment (31%), the report says.

Similar to 2014, CISOs are focusing on implementation of multifactor authentication, federated IAM, and privileged identity management solutions. Cloud-based IAM solutions and citizen identity proofing solutions follow closely as leading initiatives.

In the past two years, state CIOs/CISOs have moved their states forward in combatting cyber risks, according to the report. The report recommends:

• Strategy: Document and formalize the cybersecurity strategy, going through the process of socializing the strategy with a broad range of stakeholders.

• Funding: Work with stakeholders to make cybersecurity a significant line item on state IT and business initiative budgets.

• Communications: Use metrics and numbers to tell a compelling story about cyber risk.

• Talent: Promote the right benefits, modernize the workplace culture, and better define required skills to attract the right talent. 


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Rutrell Yasin has more than 30 years of experience writing about the application of information technology in business and government. He has witnessed all of the major transformations in computing over the last three decades, covering the rise, death, and resurrection of the ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
9/26/2016 | 7:38:33 AM
Re: I am tired of flawed research on the topic of cybersecurity...
If every company employed at least steps 1-3 here, I think we'd all be a lot safer, but as is evidenced by the Yahoo hack and mayn countless others over the past couple of years, most companies barely even implement the first. 
User Rank: Apprentice
9/22/2016 | 7:14:08 AM
Microsoft Support
I totally agree with other and hacker try to hack other private data without much investment. By the way thanks for sharing such a nice article with us. 
User Rank: Apprentice
9/22/2016 | 7:11:44 AM
Microsoft Support
I totally agree with you. Buy the way you provided a really well research data. 

User Rank: Apprentice
9/21/2016 | 6:12:45 PM
Re: I am tired of flawed research on the topic of cybersecurity...
I agree; it will never be an even playing field; but at the rate we are moving now... we are not one step behind; but several.


The aim is not to win every battle; but the aim is to win the war.


It is true, that we can prevent 499 threats and miss one and we are seen as failures - but that is because we are looking at the world through a security lens - security is a binary state. Security is about prevent threats. Nobody ever refers to a bank vault as beings ecure once it has been broken into; nor would a prison that is broken out of be considered secure. By changing our thinking to resilience whereby we do our best and if we miss we engage is a swift recovery exercise, then we have the ability to bounce back.


At least we get five shots at winning a battle:


(1) exercising good vulnerability management when vulnerabilities are discovered

(2) practising good threat management when threats are imminent

(3) having good incident management when attacks are in progress

(4) having good continuity management to recover from the more serious incidents - breaches

(5) having good crisis management to reduce the impacts of a breach


User Rank: Moderator
9/21/2016 | 10:25:07 AM
Re: I am tired of flawed research on the topic of cybersecurity...
Hackers don't have budget constraints, Hackers don't have to follow strict laws, guidelines or industry standards. Hackers don't have to waste any energy worrying about any of these things. This will never be an even field to be on
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2016 | 8:57:32 PM
I am tired of flawed research on the topic of cybersecurity...
Personally, I think this research is flawed. Ask a CISO and they will complain they are not getting enough budget. Ask a CFO they will claim they are spending too much. This prepetuates the blame  culture we are stuck in which is making the idustry stagnate whilst cybercriminals gain an edge.


I see two problems at play here:


CISOs don't know how to measure the return on investment existing security controls are providing, hence they are not able to articulate the value


CISOs are likely not getting the best value out of some investments - not utilising all of the features; purchase was made on a whim raher than rooted in solid discussiosn around risk; etc.


To actually make a difference in the cybersecurity industry, perhaps CISOs should try changing the way they think about the problem:


Move beyond the notion of security and even regulatory compliance (PCI-DSS is good but limited). Even ISO 27001, NIST and other frmaeworks have their flaws. Also forget about the kill chain. It describes only a subset of today's attacks. 


Start thinking along these lines. Every devastating impact, be it operational, physical, personal, legal, reputational, financial, or a combination of these we suffer because of cyber crime happens because:


We failed to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in our critical assets;


We failed to predict and prevent threats that took exploited those vulnerabilities;


We failed to detect and respond to the attack that manifested from a threat;


We failed to confirm and recover from a breach in a timely and coordinated fashion.


Translate this into the requirement for a shift in mindset and culture from security or compliance to a healthy dose of:


1. asset management (asset identification and classification)

2. vulnerability management (vulnerability identification and remediation)

3.  threat management (threat prediction and prevention)

4. incident management (attack detection and response)

5. continuity management (breach confirmation and recovery)

6. crisis management (impact reduction, acceptance, avoidance and transfer)


I call this "cyber resilience" and, yes, it actually works to reduce the rate and cost of cybercrime.

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