As part of an international study, 105 business and cybersecurity leaders in Australia were surveyed by Forrester Consulting on behalf of security vendor Tenable.
Among the security leaders, 70% are only somewhat confident, at best, in their ability to report on their level of security or risk when asked.
So it's probably unsurprising that 67% of the business leaders are at best only somewhat effective in communicating threats that pose the greatest risk to the organisation.
"Cyber[security] is still perceived as the domain of the IT department," Tenable ANZ country manager Scott McKinnel told iTWire.
CISOs are typically former technology practitioners, but they need to take a business perspective so they can determine how cyber activity is impacting the organisation's risk posture, he suggested.
More-sophisticated organisations have risk committees that oversee cybersecurity along with other issues, but that isn't the norm, McKinnel said.
Forthcoming legislation will probably provide "a very clear indication" of the minimum security requirements for significant organisations, he predicted, but the Essential Eight already provide a security baseline.
"Basic system hygiene removes a lot of the risk," he observed.
From there, CISOs need to understand their organisations' assets (including those operated by third parties) and where the vulnerabilities are. That provides a context that can be used to determine priorities and KPIs.
"All the tools are available" (from vendors including Tenable) to suit organisations of different sizes, he said. What's needed is a willingness to take action.
Assets can be mapped onto business processes, and automation – including AI – can be applied to help identify the most important components so they can be prioritised.
Any proposal to increase spending is likely to be challenged – especially in the current environment – so CISOs need to show that systems aren't at the desired level of risk, and the potential business impact of an adverse outcome.
This information needs to be presented very simply to business leaders, along the lines of "This is what can happen. Are you prepared to take that risk? If not, we need to take this action."
The survey also found that 92% of Australian organisations experienced a business-impacting cyberattack in the past 12 months.
73% of these attacks involved operational technology (OT) assets. 45% were some form of fraud, 44% were COVID-19 related phishing incidents, and 43% were data breaches.
Ransomware played a part in 39% of incidents, and software vulnerabilities in 36%.
These findings apply to a wide range of organisations in terms of size, geography and industry, said McKinnel.