Survey: 72% of CISOs Are Concerned Generative AI Solutions Could Result In Security Breach

Metomic recently released its “2024 CISO Survey: Insights from the Security Leaders Keeping Critical Business Data Safe.” Metomic surveyed more than 400 Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) from the U.S. and UK to gain deeper insights on the state of data security. The report includes survey findings on various cybersecurity issues, including security leaders’ top priorities and challenges, SaaS app usage across their organization, and biggest concerns with implementing generative AI solutions.

Data breaches are continuing to surge across industries, but particularly for healthcare, finance, and manufacturing organizations. According to industry reports, U.S. companies experienced 3,205 data breaches last year (up from 1,802 data breaches in 2022), with the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. climbing to $9.48 million in 2023.

According to Metomic’s survey findings, CISOs from both the U.S. and UK rank data breaches as their top security concern. In the U.S. AI and emerging tech follow data breaches as a top concern. In the UK, phishing schemes and compromised accounts follow data breaches as a top concern. The survey revealed that 84% of CISOs plan to focus their time and efforts on security operations in 2024, followed by strategy and planning initiatives (82%), and security awareness and training (79%). Thirty-six percent of CISOs in the U.S. report their organization uses more than 200 SaaS applications to run the business.

When looking at the biggest concerns connected to generative AI, security breaches were at the top of the list with 72% of CISOs confirming they are a primary concern, followed by sensitive company data being used to train the LLMs powering generative AI solutions.

Here is a snapshot of the biggest insights from Metomic’s CISO survey:

  • More than half of the survey respondents confirmed they have already experienced malware and phishing attacks on an occasional or frequent basis.
  • Creating and maintaining a strong security culture and awareness is a top challenge for both U.S. CISOs (41%) and UK CISOs (34%).
  • Nearly 60% of CISOs in the UK and U.S. say they should be spending more time on security ops, security awareness and training, and risk management.
  • The majority of respondents (80%) believe their organization runs security training programs for employees outside of the security organization often enough, while 93% believe employees have a high level of awareness when it comes to handling confidential and/or sensitive business data.
  • More than 80% of the CISOs surveyed somewhat or strongly agreed they can get the resources they need to do their job.
  • When looking at the number of SaaS apps businesses are currently using, 7% of U.S. CISOs and 4% of UK CISOs report their organizations have implemented more than 500 collaborative work apps.
  • Four-fifths of CISOs and IT security leaders plan to implement AI-powered tools to fight emerging AI-based security schemes and threats.

“Our research makes clear just how many challenges today’s CISOs are up against. In addition to protecting their organization against data security threats, they are prioritizing security operations and implementing training programs while trying to build a security-focused culture across the organization. They are overseeing IT budgets, monitoring SaaS environments, and calculating the impact of AI on their security efforts. It’s an exhaustive list that is becoming increasingly more difficult to manage,” said Rich Vibert, co-founder and CEO, Metomic. “As part of the cybersecurity community, we conducted this survey to offer security leaders a helpful resource when building their own data security policies. Being a CISO can feel extremely isolating, especially when it’s your job to manage the very tools your business uses to keep things moving forward. Metomic exists so that we can help CISOs better monitor their systems and networks by adding an extra layer of protection across their SaaS ecosystems.”

The reality is that the more SaaS apps a business implements and the more employees it has, the greater the risk of vulnerable company data landing in the wrong hands (industry reports claim 95% of data breaches are the result of human error). Metomic’s research found that 40% of the 6.5 million Google Drives it scanned included sensitive data that could put an organization at risk of a data breach or cybersecurity attack.

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