Whose priorities do IT departments really care about?

Earlier this week mobile security company Imation showed off its latest range of Ironkey encrypted USB sticks and portable hard drives.

Accompanying the launch was a presentation from Stollznow Research on how Australian companies are managing data with a comparison against similar surveys carried out in the UK, US, Canada and Germany.

Of the 207 senior decision-makers in Australian medium to large businesses surveyed, there were some interesting results on the attitudes of the nation’s IT departments and CIOs.

In the field of confidence about the security of their networks, Australian IT managers came out a lot more paranoid than their foreign counterparts with only 38% of Aussies confident their office data is protected from loss or theft against 73% overseas.

That result is encouraging as the internet and the world of IT security has a habit of severely punishing those with a false sense of security.

What was particularly notable though with the Imation research was what IT managers considered to be the consequences of a security breach.


Around the world, IT managers see the headache of cleaning up the mess and bad media coverage as being the biggest consequences of a data breach. Customers come fourth in priority and even then the only concern is losing clients rather than the effects it could have on those people’s lives.

One of the tragedies of the continued Sony data breaches in 2011 was the leaking of credit card details. Many of those customers on pre-paid cards were young or low-paid workers who quite possibly lost all the money in their compromised accounts – debit cards don’t have the same protections against fraud as credit cards.

Even more terrible are the effects on those who become victims of identity fraud as consequence of a data breach. Letting that sort of information out is a fundamental betrayal of trust by organisations with sloppy security.

Interestingly over a third of respondents feared losing their jobs as a result of data being breached; in a perfect world it would be higher although we don’t live in a period where those accountable take responsibility for their actions.

What’s more likely in many smaller businesses is that a data breach could be the entire organisation to fold, something that should worry anyone running a start-up or small business.

It may be true that many CIOs and IT managers aren’t too worried about the business effects of a data breach or system outage, which shows that security – both physical and digital – are the job of everyone in an organisation, not just one department or executive.

Paul Wallbank‘s latest book, eBu$iness, Seven Steps to Online Success, shows how business can get online quickly and cost effectively using web 2.0, cloud computing, social media and e-commerce tools.


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