Securing the Hybrid Future: How Businesses Must Address the Cybersecurity Readiness Gap
In the post-pandemic world, the way businesses operate has been dramatically transformed. The shift from predominantly static models to a hybrid environment, where employees work from multiple devices and locations, has created new cybersecurity challenges. As the hybrid work trend is expected to persist, the long-term success of businesses depends on their ability to protect themselves from these evolving threats.
Cisco has developed the Cybersecurity Readiness Index to assess the preparedness of organizations worldwide in tackling modern security challenges. The Index classifies companies into four stages of readiness — Beginner, Formative, Progressive, and Mature — based on their level of preparedness across five key pillars and the deployment of 19 security solutions. The report reveals a striking finding: a mere 15% of organizations globally have achieved a mature level of preparedness to handle the security risks of our hybrid world.
Despite 82% of security leaders believing that cybersecurity incidents are likely to disrupt their businesses within the next 12 to 24 months, most organizations are not prepared to face these challenges. In the past year, nearly 60% of respondents reported experiencing some form of cybersecurity incident, costing 71% of affected organizations at least $100,000 and 41% reporting overall costs of $500,000 or more.
The cybersecurity readiness gap is alarming and threatens to widen if global business and security leaders do not take swift action. The Readiness Index reveals that private sector companies in less developed nations, especially in Asia-Pacific and the Americas, outperform their wealthier counterparts. This discrepancy can be attributed to the absence of legacy systems in emerging markets, making it easier for these companies to deploy and integrate security solutions across their IT infrastructure.
Interestingly, the data shows that mid-sized firms (250–1000 employees) have the highest preparedness, with 19% in the mature stage, compared to 17% of larger businesses (1000+ employees). Smaller organizations, however, lag behind, with only 10% being considered mature in their readiness. This is concerning as smaller businesses often form part of larger organizations’ supply chains, making them attractive targets for malicious actors.
Industries with the most to lose, such as healthcare (18%), financial services (19%), and retail (21%), have higher proportions of organizations in the Mature category. This is likely due to the frequency and severity of cyberattacks these industries have faced over the years.
To address the cybersecurity readiness gap, 86% of organizations plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets by more than 10% over the next 12 months. However, this investment must be made sooner, as waiting for a year is too long considering the rapidly evolving threat landscape. As organizations invest in their cybersecurity readiness, their confidence in resilience against potential cyberattacks will improve.
Businesses need to adopt a security resilience approach, where security is a core part of their overall strategy and prioritized across the organization. This enables companies to better anticipate threats and recover more quickly when incidents occur. Resilience involves verifying threats, understanding connections within the organization, and considering the full context of any situation to make informed decisions.
The Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index serves as a wake-up call for business leaders. Closing the cybersecurity readiness gap must become a global imperative, as the consequences of falling further behind in the hybrid era will only increase. It is crucial for organizations to evaluate their readiness across the five major security pillars, identify strengths and weaknesses, and prioritize resources accordingly.
Don’t miss out on this eye-opening report. Download the Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index today and join the movement to close the cybersecurity readiness gap and build a more secure, resilient future in the hybrid world.
By Magda Chelly
Chief Security Officer | TEDx Speaker | Author & Keynote Speaker | IFSEC Global Top 20 Cybersecurity Influencer | Entrepreneur | PhD, S-CISO, CISSP, Cert SCI (General Insurance)
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