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'APT' Among Top Three Security Worries In 2011

nCircle survey finds wider understanding of risks, less financial support for security projects
While security budgets have been relatively immune to the economic downturn, a new survey shows that half of enterprises have seen their security initiatives this year slowed by the recession.

A new nCircle report published today showed an 11 percent increase in the impact of the recession on corporate security projects this year over 2010. nCircle polled more than 560 respondents in IT security in North America in its "2011 Information Security and Compliance Trend Study."

"We thought that we … would have seen the worst of it in 2010. It surprised me that the percentage was higher this year than [last year]," says Elizabeth Ireland, vice president of marketing for nCircle, of the negative impact of the economy on security initiatives. "I'm also thinking that people's expectations that budgets are coming back a bit" is combined with knowing that there is so much more they need to do security-wise, she says.

And advanced persistent threat (APT)-type targeted attacks are among the top three security concerns in 2011, the report says. APT and cloud computing each got 16 percent of the votes, while meeting security compliance was the biggest worry, with 26 percent of respondents identifying it. Interestingly, APT nudged out Web application vulnerabilities, which 14 percent of the respondents noted as a concern.

"You have to believe that people are saying, 'Can this happen to us?'" Ireland says.

Two-and-a-half times as many respondents this year than last say that external threats are increasing. "It's not good news that the rapid increase in the threat environment doesn't correlate to an increase in the security initiatives necessary to counterbalance growing risk," she says.

Meanwhile, 66 percent say their executives are more aware of risks to their organization than they were 12 months ago, and 40 percent say reducing network and information security risks as well as demonstrating continuous compliance are top priorities.

"The good news is awareness at the senior levels continues to increase," nCircle's Ireland says. "The bad news is that there still is a lot of risk and security pros acknowledge it, but still a significant percentage are not doing everything they need to do."

A full copy of the nCircle report is available here.

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