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Security Still An Afterthought, Study Says

Despite widespread threats and breaches, most enterprises still ignore risks in new apps, Ernst & Young survey says
Enterprises are in such a rush to adopt new technologies, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media, that they are often overlooking the security risks, according to a study published this week.

According to Ernst & Young’s 14th annual Global Information Security Survey, many companies are aware of the risks that new technology presents, yet they move ahead without implementing security controls.

"Although 72 percent of respondents see increasing levels of risk due to external threats, and more companies are likely to adopt mobile tablet usage, security implementation is still low," Ernst & Young says. The survey also reports that only about a third of respondents have updated their information security strategies in the past 12 months.

Eighty percent of organizations currently are using or considering using mobile tablets, and 61 percent are using or considering the use of cloud computing services within the next year, Ernst & Young says. The survey of 1,700 organizations around the world also found that cloud computing is the top security funding priority for the next year.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents plan on increasing their information security budgets in the coming 12 months, the study says. However, only 51 percent of respondents stated that they have a documented information security strategy.

Overall, for the second consecutive year, respondents indicated that business continuity is their top funding priority.

Many organizations are still unclear about the implications of cloud technology. Almost half (48 percent) of respondents listed the implementation of cloud computing as a difficult or very difficult challenge, and more than half have not implemented any controls to mitigate the risks associated with cloud computing. The most frequently taken measure is stronger oversight of the contract management process with cloud providers, but only about 20 percent of respondents do it.

The adoption of tablets and smartphones ranked second-highest on the list of technology challenges in the survey, with more than half of respondents listing it as a difficult or very difficult challenge. Policy adjustments and awareness programs are the top two measures used to address risks posed by this new mobile technology, Ernst & Young says. Encryption techniques are used by less than half (47 percent) of the organizations.

Most respondents (72 percent) claimed that external malicious attacks were their top risk. More than half (53 percent) have responded by blocking access to social media sites, according to the survey.

Only 12 percent of respondents are presenting information security topics at each board meeting, and less than half (49 percent) of survey respondents stated that their information security function is meeting the needs of the organization, Ernst & Young reports.

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