In no real surprise considering the number of high-profile, damaging corporate cyber break-ins in the past year--perhaps highlighted by the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment intrusion--a new IBM (IBM) survey of enterprise chief information security officers (CISO), security executives and CIOs indicates a majority believe they are outgunned by a rising tide of external threats.

More than 80 percent of the 138 enterprise security executives IBM surveyed said that outside threats to their organizations are increasing while another 60 percent believe that in many cases the cyber crooks are better equipped than the businesses they’re attacking are to defend themselves.

Most security heads now consider the effort organizations must expend to combat external threats equal in priority to regulations, new technologies and internal threats combined, the report concluded.

“Security leaders must now use this growing influence to deliver better results: prioritizing the protection of critical assets, focusing investments on intelligence and recruiting top industry talent to augment internal efforts,” said Brendan Hannigan, IBM Security general manager.

Here are some study highlights:

  • 70 percent of security leaders believe they have mature, traditional technologies that focus on network intrusion prevention, advanced malware detection and network vulnerability scanning.
  • 50 percent believe new security technology is the top focus area for their organization.
  • Data leakage prevention, cloud security and mobile/device security are the top three areas for improvement.
  • More than 70 percent of security leaders said real-time security intelligence is increasingly important to their organization.
  • Only 45 percent maintain an effective mobile device management approach.
  • 80 percent said the potential risk from regulations and standards have increased over the past three years.
  • Only 22 percent think that a global approach to combating cybercrime will be agreed upon in the next three to five years.