Wireless technology hits security budgets

Spending rises and it's all thanks to mobility

Wireless technology is now a major worry for most companies, so much so that many predict security spending rising by up to 20 percent to patch up its weaknesses.

This is one of the muted conclusions from an international survey carried out by Cisco, which polled 700 decision makers in the US, the UK, Germany, China, India, South Korea, and Singapore on their spending plans in the next year.

Three quarters of respondents said that security spending was going to rise because of wireless and mobile technology, with half figuring this as a rise of 10 percent, and a further 10 percent predicting a dizzying 20 percent rise in costs.

What underlies this sudden increase? It appears that the use of wireless technology has evolved according to the rapacious need for connectivity, with security being an afterthought. Companies now face a period of catch-up.

"Many users say they aren't always aware of security concerns," the report says. "Many mobile employees say they access unauthorized wireless networks in public places and in their neighborhoods. Many say they don't encrypt data on their wireless devices or set passwords to prevent physical access to their information. And, inevitably, some mobile users lose their devices or suffer from theft."

Increased use of mobile and wireless devices all adds up to more chance of loss and theft, with 25 percent of respondents in the US saying their budget would have to increase to replace such losses.

"These figures are significant, because a 20 percent increase in spending on security alone could represent hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for mid-size and large enterprises," said Cisco's Jeff Platon.

Other aspects of security that were driving up costs included regulatory compliance - the need not just to secure networks and devices, but to prove it with an independent assessment.

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John E. Dunn

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