Survey: Infosec pros under increasing pressure, short-staffed

The majority of security professionals, 54 percent, said they were under more pressure in 2014 than the year before, and 84 percent said they needed more staff, according to a report released today.

The report, conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Trustwave, a Chicago-based security vendor, surveyed more than 1,000 information security professionals around the world, in companies of various sizes.

"It's not surprising that security leaders are feeling a lot of pressure," said Josh Shaul, Trustwave's VP of product management.

"We've seen a significant increase that said the pressure was coming from the board and senior executives," he added.

According to the survey, 61 percent of the pressure came from the board, corporate owners, or C-level executives -- up from 50 percent last year.

Pressure from direct managers declined from 30 percent to 18 percent.

The rest of the pressure was from the professionals themselves, followed by their peers. Only 4 percent of respondents said they weren't feeling under any pressure from anybody.

Points of pressure

The top worries for security pros were roughly in line with those from the previous year -- the majority, 53 percent, were most worried about customer data theft, down slightly from 58 percent last year. Another 21 percent were most worried about intellectual property theft, and 12 percent were most worried about reputational damage. The rest worried about their websites being taken offline or fines or legal actions.

Only 4 percent -- down from 5 percent last year -- thought they wouldn't fall victim to any of these.

External threats were rated higher this year than in last year's report -- 62 said it was the top security threat, up from 52 percent, while the worries about internal threats declined from 48 to 38 percent.

"This is purely explained by the dramatic number of data breaches we've seen," said Shaul.

Pressure to roll out IT projects despite security problems continued to be a source of concern for 77 percent of respondents, though this was down slightly from 79 percent last year.

Emerging technologies rose to the top in the list of biggest operational pressures, selected by 25 percent of respondents in this year's survey, compared to 17 percent last year.

Advanced security threats, the top concern last year, was also up slightly, from 22 to 24 percent.

In particular, 47 percent of respondents said they were under pressure to adopt cloud technology -- up from 25 percent last year. Meanwhile, 40 percent said it posed the greatest risk to their companies, up from 22 percent last year.

"As more organizations are pressured to move the cloud, more organizations are worried about the risks this brings to the business," said Shaul.

Bring-your-own-device policies were in second place, with 22 percent most pressured to adopt, up from 18 percent last year, and 27 percent feeling that they posed the greatest risk, up from 21 percent least year.

However, the pressure to adopt, and worries about risks all dropped significantly for mobile applications, social media, and big data.

Staffing needed

Of the 84 percent of respondents who said they needed more staff to cope with their security challenges, 54 percent said they wanted to double the size of their teams.

And 30 percent said they wanted to increase their teams by four times or more.

"There's a clear indication there that to staff up appropriately to meet demand was a big challenge for folks," he said.

"Most planned to partner with a managed security firm to augment their staff," he added. "They're starting to feel that they're not going to get all the security manpower to get the job done, and are looking to alternative strategies like managed security services."

According to the survey, 35 percent said they already partnered with a managed security services provider, and 43 percent said they would do so in the future.

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