UK businesses 'underestimate security risks'

A padlock Many companies don't know how secure their information is

UK businesses fail to understand the severity of any information security problems they have, according to the findings of a new survey.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Global State of Information Security Survey 2008 found that many UK organisations underestimate the level of threat they may be facing.

The survey polled 7,000 information technology executives from 119 countries (over 300 from the UK) across all industries on the challenges of protecting corporate information assets. The global findings 
confirm many of the recent trends and developments in information security that UK organisations have experienced.

Although businesses continue to invest heavily in security tools such as software for intrusion detection, encryption and identity management, they are still struggling with their security processes, the study shows. Most UK companies in the sample did not know where their data was located, 37% weren't sure how many incidents they had had and more than half could not say what type of security incident had occurred or what had caused them.

Some 30% of companies had neither measured nor reviewed the effectiveness of their information security policies over the past year.

Neil Austin, director in the information security group of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said: "Information has become the new currency of business. Its availability, integrity and confidentiality are crucial components of a collaborative business.

"Information security should be a key consideration in any organisation's projects and programmes and the responsibilities for driving awareness and policy need to be joined up."

The survey identified the key concerns for businesses as the protection of privacy, controlling access to data, outsourcing arrangements and third party relationships. Information security is now seen as a high priority by UK companies and the adoption of risk-based approaches to compliance is starting to emerge as a key strategy.

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