BLACK HAT - Protecting corporate assets is first priority

Why do people throng to the Black Hat conference Las Vegas in August? To protect their key business assets from attackers, according to a survey conducted Wednesday at the show.

The survey commissioned by Symantec was filled out Aug. 2 by 400 attendees at the conference.

The top two worries of corporate IT respondents are protecting their business systems first and their infrastructure second. Then came client software, operating systems, and messaging/scripting.

Respondents were presented with these five categories and asked to indicate which ones among them they were most concerned about. They were allowed to indicate more than one, and the percentages ranged from 32 percent for business systems to 23 percent for messaging/scripting.

The operating system most of them worry about is Windows XP (67 percent). The one the fewest worry about is the Mac OS (12 percent), but these numbers are likely influenced by the numbers of these operating systems that are in corporate use. Respondents were allowed to answer with more than one operating system to this question. Windows Vista was a concern to 31 percent, Linux to 19 percent and Unix to 18 percent. Other unspecified operating systems were a concern to 5 percent.

Among the independent researchers at the conference who filled out the survey, Windows Vista, while not available yet, is still on the things-to-research-in-2006 list for 55 percent.

When asked about Web application security, the respondents said two hot issues in that area include locking down Web services and securing mobile technologies that facilitate access to Web apps.

Most of those researching technology for whatever reason (57 percent) say they do it as part of their job, while 44 percent say they do it out of curiosity.

The survey respondents were a mix of IT managers (26 percent), executives (13 percent), independent researchers (22 percent), researchers employed by vendors (17 percent), or other (22 percent).

Eighty-five of the respondents are based in North America, 9 percent are from Europe, the Middle East or Africa, and the remaining 6 percent are scattered around the rest of the world.

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