Top IT security concerns voiced in survey

Network breaches represent the foremost nightmare scenario for IT pros, according to a new industry report, announced on Tuesday.

The report, "7th Annual Survey: Network and System Administrators," by Amplitude Research was sponsored by security solutions provider VanDyke Software. In compiling the report, Amplitude Research recorded the responses of 353 network or system administrators nationwide throughout the second and third weeks of April.

The entire 44-page report can be accessed here (PDF download).

When asked, "What keeps you up at night?", 39 percent of respondents said a network breach. Others (38 percent) worried about risky user activity. Recovery plans, or a lack thereof, represented the main sleep deterrent for 32 percent in the survey.

Employee use of social media emerged as a major concern among IT professionals compared with last year's survey. Such were the views of 40 percent, with 22 percent of that number being "moderately concerned" and 18 percent being "extremely concerned." However, those worries may not be associated with actual security incidents, according to Steve Birnkrant, CEO at Amplitude Research.

"Of course, there are many possible reasons for worrying about a breach to a network, and we are not saying that there is necessarily a primary causal relationship between employee use of social media and network breaches," Birnkrant explained. "But the results do indicate a statistically significant relationship between how concerned network administrators are about employee use of social media and how worried they are about a security breach to their network."

Core Sleep-Deprivation Issues

The survey identified more than 11 core issues facing network administrators in 2010. Securing remote access is still the top priority, as it has been for four years running. The top issues include:

  1. Securing remote access
  2. Keeping virus definitions and AV software up to date
  3. Patching systems
  4. Monitoring intrusions
  5. Securing file transfers
  6. Network use monitoring
  7. User policy awareness and training
  8. Password management and administrative access
  9. User training
  10. Monitoring of system logs
  11. Finding and replacing nonsecure Internet protocols

Cloud Computing Security Still a Concern

Only 15 percent of respondents said that their organization used cloud computing for one or more applications. However, 47 percent said that their organization was considering its use.

Among the small number of cloud computing adopters in the survey, 43 percent rated it "somewhat secure." Those network administrators who hadn't used cloud computing (85 percent) were not bullish about its security, with 56 percent assessing it as "somewhat secure." The cloud still seems to foster uncertainty throughout many IT shops with regard to security.

Security Budgets Increase

The survey also unearthed potential good news for IT organizations feeling the effects of recent budget constraints. IT security has started to get more funding and staffing in enterprises in 2010 compared with last year, in what the report is calling "a reversal of fortune."

Nearly one third (30 percent) of respondents saw an increase in their 2010 security budget, according to the survey. Just 15 percent said the same in 2009.

Budget and staffing considerations were often linked in the minds of the survey participants, according to Birnkrant.

"Often, but not always, those comfortable with their IT security budget are also comfortable with the size of their IT security staff," he said. "It turns out that 44 percent felt that their organization is both budgeted and staffed sufficiently to support current information security needs."

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.


  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.