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CSI/FBI: Small Firms Pay Big For Security

The per-user cost of security is much higher in small enterprises than in large ones, according to the forthcoming annual survey from the Computer Security Institute and the FBI

When it comes to the costs of security implementation, smaller companies don't get a break.

That's one of the findings in the 2006 Computer Security Institute/FBI annual security survey, which is scheduled for release on July 12. And while it's a simple statistic, it may go a long way toward explaining why small companies often fall behind in deploying the latest security technology.

According to the new data, companies with revenues of less than $10 million annually invest approximately $746 per employee per year on security, while companies that make $1 billion or more spend just $58 per employee. Companies with annual revenues in the $100 million to $1 billion range spend even less, about $34 per employee.

"The average information security expenditure and investment per employee decreases as the organization gets larger," the study says. Training, in particular, shows the greatest economies of scale: It costs companies of $1 billion or more just $18 per year to train their employees in IT security; that same training costs $318 per year in companies of under $10 million.

The data might be something of a vindication for smaller companies, which have come under fire recently for moving too slowly in the deployment of security tools and standards such as the Payment Card Industry's Data Security Standard. (See Retailers Lag on Security Standard.) Experts historically have blamed the problem on a lack of knowledge and skilled resources, but the CSI/FBI data suggests that some small companies may simply be unable to afford the price of training and software required to meet security standards.

In fact, many enterprises are making increasingly stark judgments on whether to invest heavily in security, the report says. Some 47 percent of respondents now are allocating less than 3 percent of their total IT budget to security, which compares to 35 percent in last year's survey, according to the study. By contrast, 34 percent are now allocating more than 5 percent of their budgets to security --up from 27 percent last year.

CSI and the FBI are scheduled to release the survey July 12.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Computer Security Institute (CSI)

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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