Survey: Info security moving from back room to boardroom

More senior executives in government and industry are taking responsibility for information security, a new survey has found.

Government and industry leaders realized in 2005 that they need information security to cost-effectively manage their risk, prevent financial-based cyberattacks and meet increasingly stringent federal information security regulations, the IDC 2005 Global Information Security Workforce Study concluded.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium hired IDC to conduct the study.

Regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 are putting the onus on executive management to take information security seriously or face financial consequences, said Howard Schmidt, president and chief executive officer at R&H Security Consulting and a former information security adviser to President Bush. The biggest responsibility and headache for federal information security workers is the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002.

“Security is no longer a necessary evil,” Schmidt said. “It’s got to be part of core business operations.”

This year’s study saw perceptions change of which executives are accountable for information security.

In 2005, 21 percent of respondents said their CEOs are ultimately responsible, up from 12 percent in 2004.

Chief information security officers and chief security officers also were held more accountable. Twenty-four percent of respondents said the buck stopped with CISOs and CSOs in 2005, compared with 21 percent in 2004.

The survey findings took some heat off chief information officers. Only 30.5 percent of respondents in 2005 gave CIOs final responsibility for information security, down from 38 percent in 2004.

The study made important observations for the federal government because 27.4 percent of respondents are U.S. federal employees or contractors.

More than 4,300 information technology professionals from 81 countries participated in the study, which is in its second year. The results were released at the Infosecurity conference in New York City Dec. 7.

The second phase of the survey is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2006. That phase will specifically analyze the survey findings as they pertain to the federal government.

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