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IT chiefs are compromising security for smoother business operations

An epidemic of unhealthy patching regimes across UK firms raises alarms in light of the Equifax disaster

Image of an unlocked padlock casually discarded onto on a keyboard

The vast majority of CIOs and CISOs have admitted compromising IT security so that day-to-day operations can run as smoothly as possible.

Most IT leaders have delayed essential security patches due to concerns over how these updates could impact the wider business in the short-term.

The majority of CIOs and CISOs surveyed by Tanium, 84%, admitted to delaying essential security updates at least once, while 41% of the 100 IT chiefs questioned conceded this is a habitual practice.

This is in addition to an alarming 95% of respondents admitting they have had to make general compromises in how effectively they can safeguard their organisation from incidents such as IT outages and cyber attacks.

When asked why, 35% cited "pressure to keep the lights on", while 31% blamed their legacy IT commitments. This is in addition to pressures to prioritise implementing new systems over protecting existing assets, as well as inconsistent and incomplete datasets.

With the scale of cyber threats rising, unhealthy patching regimes can have serious consequences for a business' outlook, highlighted most vibrantly by the Equifax disaster.

Among a host of contributing factors, a US Senate investigation released last month found the massive data catastrophe was largely attributable to lackadaisical patch management.

Now, Tanium's research has thrown the spotlight onto how widespread unhealthy patching regimes are across organisations in the UK. An alarming majority of the CIOs and CISOs questioned, 83%, have also had instances where they believed critical updates had been applied successfully, only to discover later that the patch had failed.

"As leaders, CIOs and CISOs face multifaceted pressures across the business to remain resilient against disruption and cyber threats," said Tanium's managing director for EMEA Matt Ellard.

"They must maintain compliance with an evolving set of regulatory standards, track and secure sensitive data across computing devices, manage a dynamic inventory of physical and cloud-based assets, all while fulfilling an increasingly common executive mandate to make technology an enabler for business growth."

The lack of IT visibility was also highlighted as a major concern for IT leaders, with a just over a quarter complaining that different departments within their organisations worked in silos.

This, they say, leaves them without control over IT operations. Moreover, more than half of those questioned, 56%, agreed that other business units don't grasp the importance of a resilient security regime.

"Our research shows that a new approach is needed to achieve visibility and control of distributed, dynamic IT environments," Ellard continued.

"As organisations look to build a strong compliance and security culture, it is essential that IT operations and security teams unite around a common set of actionable data for true visibility and control over all of their computing devices."

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