Asia-Pacific companies outspending world on IT security in 2014: PwC

Companies in the Asia-Pacific region are well ahead of their global peers in terms of forecast spend on IT security, but many still aren't confident that their information security activities are effective, an extensive global survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers has revealed.

Fully 60.3 per cent of respondents in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global State of Information Security 2014 survey expect to increase their security spending this year, compared with 49.0 per cent of respondents overall. Just 7.2 per cent of Asia-Pacific respondents said they would decrease IT security spending this year, compared with 10.9 per cent overall.

Drivers for that spending varied significantly from the driers in other regions, with change and business transformation cited by 36 per cent of Asia-Pacific organisations but just 29.2 per cent of all companies.

Business continuity and disaster recovery was a driver for information-security spending at 41 per cent of Asia-Pacific respondents but just 30 per cent of all respondents, while change and business transformation (36.0 per cent vs 29.2 per cent) and company reputation (35.7 per cent vs 30.2 per cent) also showed markedly higher results in this region.

Privileged user access, intrusion detection, asset management and identity management tools were each in use at over 60 per cent of respondent organisations, with Asia-Pacific companies edging ahead of global averages on nearly every count.

The two least widely used safeguards were behavioural profiling and monitoring, and encryption of smartphones, in use by 49.9 per cent and 53.2 per cent of respondents, respectively.

The elements of security policies in use by the surveyed companies varied widely, with 54.9 per cent of respondents indicating that their policies addressed backup, recovery and business continuity but just 37.1 per cent including security risk assessments. Just 26.5 per cent said they had an incident response plan in place, for example, while 24.3 per cent said they had implemented measures to protect intellectual property.

Only one company in five, or 21.7 per cent, had a formal policy for classifying the business value of data.

Despite the large number of companies yet to address key elements of security best practice in their policies, a higher proportion had implemented measures for boosting awareness of security risks. For example, around 63.2 per cent of respondents had implemented employee security awareness training programs.

With IT security spending higher in the Asia-Pacific region, surveyed companies also shared their spending priorities for the coming year. Subscriptions to threat-intelligence services were the most common planned expenditure, named by 28.4 per cent of respondents, while mobile device management (26.9 per cent), a formal program to identify assets (26.8 per cent), setting security baselines and/or standards for external partners (26.2 per cent) and protection against advanced persistent threats (APTs, at 25.6 per cent) all ranked highly on the list of spending priorities.

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