Ernst & Young's IT security survey shows struggle to control cloud computing, social media and mobile risks

Many CIOs and chief information security officers are struggling to adapt security practices to a changing environment that includes cloud computing, social media and tablets , according to a survey of 1,850 such IT pros.

The Ernst & Young 2012 Global Information Security Survey published today found cloud computing to be one of the main drivers of business model innovation and IT service delivery, with 59% of respondents saying they use or plan to use cloud services. But 38% admitted they have not taken any measures to mitigate risks.

Use of social media in business is prevalent, but 38% of the CIOs and CISOs surveyed say they don't have a coordinated approach to address risks, such as defending the organization's brand or determining how employees use work time to engage in social media.

The Ernst & Young survey indicated that 31% of respondents said they saw an increase in the number of security incidents compared to the previous year.

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Another technology game-changer, use of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, is compelling "policy adjustments," according to over half of these IT professionals who hail from the financial industry, insurance, high-tech, government, and various industrial, retail and utility sectors from all around the world.

More than one-third say that company-owned mobile devices have been adopted but use of personal devices is not allowed for business. The survey found that 36% have acquired mobile-device management software and 31% now have a "governance process to manage the use of mobile applications." Encryption plays a central role for 40% of CIOs and CISOs surveyed.

In terms of budgets for the next 12 months, 30% said they expect information security funding increasing from 5% to 15%, while 9% of respondents anticipate a budget increase of 25% or more. Security budgets are expected to remain the same for 44%. About a third said they spend at least $1 million per year on information security.

Just over half said the area of highest priority for them is business continuity, including management and disaster recovery. But one surprise, the report states, is that the second-highest priority is "a fundamental redesign of their information security program."

This appears to reflect on the security gaps that these CIOs and CISOs acknowledge exist in their organizations adopting cloud computing and tablet adoption. 55% said they plan to spend more to secure new technologies, while 63% acknowledged that they felt they had "no formal architecture framework in place, nor are they necessarily planning on using one." The Ernst & Young study indicated these IT professionals may feel they have "a patchwork of non-integrated, complex and fragile defenses" that creates gaps in their security.

Those that did have a defined security architecture pointed to the Open Group Architecture Framework, the ANSI/IEEE 1471:ISO/IEC 42010 standards, and other references such as defense department frameworks defined in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

A major complaint from 43% of respondents is that they can't find the right people with the right skills and training to handle information security jobs. And when asked what threats or vulnerabilities have most increased risk over the last 12 months, the answer at the top of the list was "careless or unaware employees," followed by "cyber attacks to steal financial information."

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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Tags unified communicationsInternet-based applications and servicesCISO; Ernst & Young; cloud computing securityapplicationsNetworkingwirelesscloud computingCIOinternetsocial media securitysecuritymobile securityWeb 2.0softwarecollaborationsocial mediaErnst & Young

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