Sophos Study Finds Most Firms Struggle To Execute Essential Security Tasks

Data Privacy, security

State of cybersecurity report for 2023 from Sophos reveals that majority of businesses find essential security tasks challenging

Cybersecurity specialist Sophos has this week published its new survey report, “The State of Cybersecurity 2023: The Business Impact of Adversaries on Defenders.”

The Sophos report surveyed over 3,000 IT/cybersecurity leaders in January and February, and alarmingly found that 93 percent of organisations find the execution of essential security operation tasks (such as threat hunting) challenging.

Sophos said these challenges also include understanding how an attack happened, with 75 percent of respondents to its survey stating they have challenges identifying the root cause of an incident.

Cyber operations

The security vendor warned this can make proper remediation difficult, leaving organisations vulnerable to repetitive and/or multiple attacks, by the same or different adversaries, especially since 71 percent of those surveyed also reported challenges with timely remediation.

The Sophos study also found that 71 percent of respondents have challenges understanding which signals/alerts to investigate, and the same percent reported challenges prioritising investigations.

“Only one fifth of respondents considered vulnerabilities and remote services a top cybersecurity risk for 2023, yet the ground truth is that these are routinely exploited by Active Adversaries,” said John Shier, field CTO, commercial at Sophos.

“This cascade of operational issues means that these organisations aren’t seeing the full picture and are potentially acting on incorrect information,” said Shier. “There’s nothing worse than being confidently wrong. Having external audits and monitoring helps eliminate blind spots.”

The Sophos study also found the following:

  • 52 percent of organisations surveyed said that cyberthreats are now too advanced for their organisation to deal with on their own;
  • 64 percent wish the IT team could spend more time on strategic issues and less time on firefighting, and 55 percent said that the time spent on cyberthreats has impacted the IT team’s work on other projects;
  • While 94 percent said they are working with external specialists to scale their operations, the majority still remain involved with managing threats rather than taking a fully outsourced approach

Reactive, not proactive

“Today’s threats require a timely and co-ordinated response,” said Shier. “Unfortunately, too many organisations are stuck in reactive mode. Not only is this having an impact on core business priorities, but it also has a sizeable human toll, with over half of respondents stating that cyberattacks are keeping them up at night.”

“Eliminating the guesswork and applying defensive controls based on actionable intelligence will let IT teams focus on enabling the business instead of trying to douse the eternal flame of active attacks,” said Shier.

The Sophos findings come after senior management executives in February were warned not to take their cybersecurity leaders for granted.

Analyst house Gartner predicted that within the next two years, nearly half of cybersecurity leaders will change their jobs, creating a recruitment headache for senior management.

That Gartner prediction came after a survey from threat detection specialist Vectra last year found that 50 percent of security leaders said they were ready to throw in the towel.