Cybersecurity Approaches Are Maturing but Spending Is Misdirected and People Are Still the Problem: Nuix Executive Survey


nuixAustralian technology company Nuix has released the findings from its third annual survey of corporate information security practitioners who almost universally agreed that human behavior was their largest security threat. While businesses were investing to develop broad and mature cybersecurity capabilities, many survey respondents were uncertain about the most effective technologies and capabilities to focus on.

“Cybersecurity no longer has an air of mystery about it for executives and directors but human behavior and technological uncertainty remain prominent barriers to corporate confidence,” said Ari Kaplan, the report’s author.

The research surveyed respondents’ current and planned spending across all five categories in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. Nearly four in five respondents (79%) said they had increased spending on data breach detection in the past year and 72% said they planned to do so next year. However, a majority of respondents (52%) said preventing data breaches was their top spending priority, while 42% said detection was their primary focus.

“We still see a lot of companies spending too much money and effort on breach prevention technologies that don’t prevent data breaches and detection measures that don’t detect them until months later,” said Dr. Jim Kent, Global Head of Security & Intelligence at Nuix. “That means they have less to spend on incident response and recovery just when they need those things most. The answer must be more balanced spending across all the priorities but also more targeted spending on solutions that work.”

Security executives almost unanimously agreed that human behavior was their greatest vulnerability (97% of participants in this year’s survey, up from 93% last year and 88% in 2014).

To counter this threat, businesses are less likely to use fear to convey important security ideas—24% of this year’s respondents tried to scare people, compared with 39% last year. Instead, security leaders are using policies, awareness, and training to help people become part of the solution.

“Where this breaks down is that a large proportion of people, even after they’ve had security awareness training, will still put their organisations at risk by opening malicious attachments and visiting suspect websites,” said Kent. “While the policies and training are crucial, we need to get better at ‘idiot-proofing’ our technology so that even if people do the wrong thing, the malware doesn’t run or doesn’t achieve its goals.”

The report Defending Data: Cybersecurity Maturity Reflects Growth in How Corporations Manage and Protect Information From Increasingly Sophisticated Threats was written by Ari Kaplan Advisors and sponsored by Nuix. It is available from