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Corporations not doing enough to protect data from Internet risk, CMU report says

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By Rick Stouffer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Corporate boards of directors and senior management aren't adequately involved in the privacy and security of their computer systems and data, according to a new report released today by Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab.

The report, "Governance of Enterprise Security: CyLab 2010 Report," found that while company boards are taking risk management seriously, there remains a gap in understanding the relationship between information technology, or IT, and risk management.

The report is being presented today at the Bloomberg Boards & Risk Briefing, in Washington, D.C. The report is based on the results from 66 respondents to its survey at the board or senior executive level from Fortune 1000 companies. It builds on CyLab's first survey, conducted in 2008.

"The survey results indicate that boards and senior executives need to be more actively involved in the governance of the privacy and security of their computer systems and data, but this year's study shows some important areas of improvement," said Jody Westby, a distinguished fellow in CMU's CyLab, and CEO of Global Cyber Risk LLC, in a statement.

The report found that a majority of companies don't have full-time privacy, security and risk executives responsible for those issues. Respondents indicated that corporate boards reviewing privacy and security issues weren't focusing on activities that would help protect the organization from high-risk situations, such as reputational or financial losses due to breaches of personal identity information or theft of confidential or proprietary information.

The study makes 10 recommendations to improve Internet security. Among the suggestions:

• Review the components of an organization's security program and ensure that it meets best practices and standards and includes incident response, disaster recovery and breach response plans.

• Evaluate the existing organizational structure and establish a cross-organizational team that's required at least monthly to coordinate and communicate on privacy and security issues.

• Establish a board risk committee separate from the board audit committee and assign it responsibility for risks, including information technology risks. Recruit directors with risk and information technology governance expertise.

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