Only 49% of CISOs and other senior executives are fully confident that their organization could deal with the fallout of a hacking incident or data breach right now, and most think the threat from cyberattacks will get worse.

Under half of organizations believe they’re fully ready to respond to a cyberattack or data breach — despite most senior executives and chief information security officers (CISOs) believing that the threats posed by hacking and other malicious cyber incidents will escalate in 2020 and beyond.

Organizations in the US are most confident about their ability to respond well to a cyberattack, with almost three quarters (72%) of the opinion that they’re fully ready. In contrast, just a quarter of organizations in Japan believed they’re fully ready to face a cyberattack or data breach.

Meanwhile, 47% of organizations say they’re ‘somewhat ready’ to handle a cyberattack, but fear there are areas of the business that would struggle to respond well to a hacking incident.

A small number of organizations (4%) say they’re not ready to face a cyberattack at all. This might not sound like a large number, but it accounts for one in 25 organizations around the world.

When it comes to cybersecurity, organizations are taking a range of measures to boost protection, with security software, vulnerability management and employee training the most common means of increasing resilience against cyberattacks.

However, only a quarter of organizations believe their cybersecurity training programs can be classed as ‘advanced’, while just over a third rate training as ‘semi-formal’ and just under a third say the status of their employee cybersecurity program is ‘informal’.

One in ten organizations say they don’t have any form of training at all, which could leave them open to cyberattacks — particularly when it comes to spear-phishing and other hacking techniques that rely on social engineering.

Top threats: Phishing and malware

Phishing is regarded as one of the attack types most likely to lead to data breach, with one in five of the CISOs surveyed by FireEye stating that targeted phishing is the most likely malicious activity that could lead to a security incident. Among organizations that have been targeted by a cyberattack in the past 12 months, almost 20% said they had been targeted by a phishing attack.

Malware is also viewed as a big threat to organizations, with around 20% stating it’s the most likely cause of a data breach and the same number saying they’ve been targeted by a malware attack in the last year.

When it comes to the source of attacks, hacking groups are what organizations fear most, with a third of organizations of the opinion they’re the most likely origin of hacking attempts. That’s followed by individual hackers and professional criminal organizations as the second and third most likely sources of attacks.

Globally, nation states are viewed as the least likely origin of cyberattacks — even ranking behind industry competitors and malicious insiders.

However, there is one country where nation states are viewed as the most likely source of cyberattacks: South Korea. This is due to a fractious relationship with its neighbour North Korea, and Pyongyang’s support of malicious cyber activity, which has often targeted South Korea.