Network security professionals admit their firewall management policies are in a mess, putting their organisations at risk of a security breach.
Security lifecycle management firm Tufin Technologies questioned 100 network security professionals from around the world who were directly involved in firewall management and auditing.
Despite regulatory and corporate compliance requirements such as SOX, PCI DSS and ISO 27001, only 7 percent of the sample automated the firewall audit process. As a result, 40 percent of organisations spend up to a month or more a year on firewall audits.
And 85 percent of respondents reported that up to 50 percent of firewall rule changes require modification because they were not designed correctly.
Shaul Efraim, vice president of marketing and business development at Tufin, said: "We were surprised to learn that half the sample is still doing basic tasks manually such as tightening up permissive rules, looking for shadowed rules or recertifying rules. There is no benefit to having experienced administrators spend their days searching for needles in haystacks."
Efraim said automating these tasks saves a significant amount of time and money, and dramatically increases the accuracy and efficiency of operations.
To perhaps further illustrate that network security professionals are stretched, the survey found that that 22 percent knew of someone that had cheated on an audit, citing lack of time as the main reason - this was up from 10 percent in a Tufin survey from April 2010.
Worryingly, 23 percent of this year's sample say their organisation has never conducted a firewall audit, and 11 percent said they had no idea how much time it takes to conduct one.
The average security budget among large companies is $3.35 million (£2.13 million), according to figures released by Kaspersky Lab last month, who asked 1,300 IT pros about IT risks and security spending.