US boardrooms wake up to data security

But work still needs to be done by businesses to be fully protected

Corporate America says data security is now the main concern in the boardroom when it comes to legal considerations.

An annual survey of 11,000 public company directors and 2,000 general counsels shows that data security, for the first time, is now the top corporate fear.

The research, for the "12th annual Law and the Boardroom Study", from advisory firms Corporate Board Member and FTI Consulting, shows more than half (55 percent) of general counsels rate data security as a major concern, and 48 percent of directors feel likewise.

This level of fear has nearly doubled in the last four years. In 2008, only 25 percent of directors and 23 percent of general counsels noted data security as a high area of concern.

TK Kerstetter, president of Corporate Board Member, said, "I hate to say this, but I think it is going to take several well-publicised security breaches before a majority of corporate boards finally embrace the fact that doing business today without a prudent crisis plan in place is a formula for disaster."

Kerstetter said that while a number of companies are taking steps to become more educated on IT risks, not enough were taking the appropriate action to fully prepare their organisations.

Concern about operational risks garnered the second highest percentage of responses from both directors (40 percent) and general counsels (47 percent). Corporate reputation risk earned the third highest prevalence of responses by directors (40 percent) and the fourth highest by general counsels (35 percent).

Organisations that operate in the European Union may soon be searching for data protection officers (DPOs), a position mandated by law as part of the European Commission's proposed data protection proposals.

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