CIOs in life of fire as cyber attacks hit all-time high

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Cyber-security vulnerability is at an all-time high with a third of IT chiefs reporting their organisation has been subject to a major cyber attack in the past 24 months, a survey of almost 4500 tech leaders has revealed.

The 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the world’s largest IT leadership survey released today, found there has been a 107 per cent jump in ­Australian chief information ­officers reporting a cyber attack on their organisation since 2014.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of Australian tech leaders said they were “very well’’ prepared to respond to attacks, down from 29 per cent in 2016.

Despite the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, the biggest increase in threats came from insider attacks. In Australia, this jumped from 30 per cent to 54 per cent over last year.

Harvey Nash Australia managing director Bridget Gray said information technology leaders needed to have a firm control of their infrastructure.

“The role of a CIO is becoming increasingly complex, but those who can work across multidisciplinary teams to a common goal and keep their organisation secure and adaptable for the future will become even more valuable to their executive and board,’’ Ms Gray said.

Data 61 chief executive Adrian Turner said cyber security was fast evolving from a technology issue to a business continuity issue.

“CIOs and companies that invest and protect their digital assets and their customers’ assets well, this track record will become a differentiating reason for winning new business and retaining existing business,’’ Mr Turner said.

“This is not an area to under ­invest. CIOs should be leveraging industry and government programs that can support them, such as shared threat intelligence environments.’’

In Australia, 93 per cent of CIOs were maintaining or ramping up investment in innovation, including digital labour.

More than half (57 per cent) were investing in more nimble technology platforms to help their organisation innovate and adapt, according to the survey.

The report, which included almost 200 local tech leaders, noted that digital strategies have infiltrated businesses across Australia at an entirely new level.

Those with enterprise-wide digital strategies increased 21 per cent in just two years, and those organisations with a chief digital officer have increased 40 per cent over the past year.

“The businesses we see as ­digital leaders are investing in transforming every facet of their organisation, from front to back, from capability to culture, to align behind their digital promise,’’ KPMG Australia’s head of digital consulting Guy Holland said.

Two-thirds of CIOs in Australia believe IT projects were more complex than they were five years ago, and overoptimistic expectations (49 per cent), poor governance or project management (36 per cent), and unclear objectives (36 per cent) were the main reasons IT projects failed.

The fastest-growing demand for a technology skill this year is for security and resilience, and big data/analytics remains the most in-demand skill at 48 per cent, up 30 per cent on 2016.

Female CIOs globally were far more likely to have received a ­salary increase than male CIOs in the past year (42 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively), but the number of women in IT leadership remained low at 9 per cent.

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