Why Security Matters Now

Social networking and cloud computing threats abound, our annual Global Information Security Survey finds, making information security important once again to business leaders.

Trend # 4

A New Corporate Commitment

CIOs may still struggle with the quality of their data security, but the response to this year's survey suggests their executive peers have agreed, finally, that security can't be ignored.

Companies' budget plans tell part of the story. Not only are more companies investing in security technologies, but overall security investments are largely intact, despite the economy.

Twelve percent of respondents expect their security spending to decline in the next 12 months. But 63 percent say their budgets will hold steady or increase (although fewer foresee increases than did last year).

For starters, more companies are hiring CSOs or chief information security officers (CISOs). Eighty-five percent of respondents said their companies now have a security executive, up from 56 percent last year and 43 percent in 2006. Just under one-third of security chiefs report to CIOs, 35 percent to CEOs and 28 percent to boards of directors.

Two factors are influencing companies to maintain security as a corporate priority: Seventy-six percent say the increased risk environment has elevated the importance of cybersecurity among the top brass, while 77 percent said the increasingly tangled web of regulations and industry standards has added to the sense of urgency.

Respondents were asked how important various security strategies had become in the context of harsher economic realities. Seventy percent cited the growing importance of data protection while 68 percent cited the need to strengthen the company's governance, risk and compliance programs.

Notes Mauricio Angée, senior manager of IT security and compliance and CSO at Universal Orlando: "For segregation of duty purposes, it's interesting to see how companies are being asked--by compliance auditors, qualified security assessors and through legislation--to hire IT security managers with a much-more-defined set of roles and responsibilities." Such roles include setting the company's security policy, making the security budget pitch (instead of the CIO) and delegating responsibility among lower-level IT security administrators and engineers.

How Cybercrime Costs You

Losses from incidents average $US833,000.

The Business Impact of Security Breaches

Financial Loss: 42 per cent

Brand or Reputation Compromised: 30 per cent

Intellectual Property Theft: 29 per cent

Home Page Altered or Defaced: 20 per cent

Fraud: 17 per cent

Multiple Responses Allowed

None of these developments, however, make a focus on information security a sure bet in the eyes of IT leaders. Just because companies feel they have to spend money on security doesn't mean executives view it as an essential, even beneficial business process instead of a pain-in-the-neck task being forced upon them.

Angée said CIOs and security leaders still have to fight hard for every penny. Meanwhile, security execs don't have the same decision-making power as other C-level leaders in every company, says PricewaterhouseCoopers' Lobel. CIOs can bring in a CSO or CISO without a strategy and budget for that person to work with and end up achieving nothing. If something goes wrong, he concludes, "all you'll have is somebody to blame and fire."

Bill Brenner is a senior editor with CSO magazine and CSOonline.com.

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Tags PricewaterhouseCoopersGlobal Information Security Survey

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Bill Brenner

CIO (US)
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