Wednesday, April 07, 2010, 4/07/2010 02:24:00 PM

Forrester Report on Corporate Secrets: Too Much For Compliance, Not Enough For Security

By Todd

Forrester Research, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachussetts has published a report on corporate secrets in Western economies and it identifies some interesting conclusions, identified below:


(1) Secrets comprise two-thirds of the value of firms’ information portfolios. Despite the increasing mandates enterprises face, custodial data assets aren’t the most valuable assets in enterprise information portfolios. Proprietary knowledge and company secrets, by contrast, are twice as valuable as the custodial data. And as recent company attacks illustrate, secrets are targets for theft.


(2) Compliance, not security, drives security budgets. Enterprises devote 80% of their security budgets to two priorities: compliance and securing sensitive corporate information, with the same percentage (about 40%) devoted to each. But secrets comprise 62% of the overall information portfolio’s total value while compliance-related custodial data comprises just 38%, a much smaller proportion. This strongly suggests that investments areoverweighed toward compliance.


(3) Firms focus on preventing accidents, but theft is where the money is. Data security incidents related to accidental losses and mistakes are common but cause little quantifiable damage. By contrast, employee theft of sensitive information is 10 times costlier on a per-incident basis than any single incident caused by accidents: hundreds of thousands of dollars versus tens of thousands.

(4) The more valuable a firm’s information, the more incidents it will have. The “portfolio value” of the information managed by the top quartile of enterprises was 20 times higher than the bottom quartile. These high value enterprises had four times as many security incidents as low-value firms. High-value firms are not sufficiently protecting data from theft and abuse by third parties. They had six times more data security incidents due to outside parties than low-value firms, even though the number of third parties they work with is only 60% greater.

(5) CISOs do not know how effective their security controls actually are. Regardless of information asset value, spending, or number of incidents observed, nearly every company rated its security controls to be equally effective — even though the number and cost of incidents varied widely. Even enterprises with a high number of incidents are still likely to imagine that their programs are “very effective.” We concluded that most enterprises do not actually know whether their data security programs work or not.


This is very interesting report. We'll report back as we digest the findings and data.

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