Cyber security a cause for concern

First published in Business Daily

CYBER security tops chief information officers’ (CIOs’) concerns, with 84% stating they are either concerned or very concerned about the risks associated with IT security breaches.

Yet while security issues remain the biggest concern that CIOs have about migrating their technology functions to the cloud, less than half (45%) test cloud vendors’ security systems and procedures.

The news follows a report by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), which found that the rate of adoption by UK organisations is accelerating. Its study of 250 IT directors in private and public sector organisations found that 61% of companies are using a cloud-based service, compared with just 48% in 2011.

Other measures adopted by CIOs to tackle the cyber security risk include improving physical security (44%), developing business continuity processes (39%), identifying management systems (34%) and relying on an external audit provider (13%).

Surprisingly, more than one in 10 (11%) of CIOs said they were not taking any proactive action to address cyber security, while 12% said that they were “not concerned” about cybersecurity.

One hundred UK CIOs were asked: “How concerned are you about cybersecurity?” Their responses:

  • Very concerned - 30%
  • Somewhat concerned - 54%
  • Not concerned at all - 12%
  • Don’t know - 4%

The research follows earlier findings from Robert Half that almost a quarter (23%) of CIOs and IT directors across the UK say they have no plans to migrate IT systems to the cloud, despite clear benefits such as cost savings and flexibility of service.

As well as security concerns, CIOs say that continuity of service is a barrier to adopting cloud (36%), followed by data integrity (32%), speed of service (31%) and costs (30%).

Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half Technology, said: “Looking towards 2013, CIOs are charged with juggling multiple priorities, with regulation, integration and migration projects putting additional pressure on busy IT departments.

“But the risks of not migrating to the cloud, notably the achievement of significant cost reductions, may outweigh the potential security risks that concern IT executives. Budgets continue to be stretched and any potential cost savings that IT can deliver will be welcomed throughout the business.

“We anticipate significant demand for both permanent and contract technology professionals with IT security, infrastructure project management and data migration skills in 2013.

“While cloud migration may provide cost savings in data storage and warehousing, companies still need the requisite talent to implement and manage cloud initiatives, ensuring that IT security remains a priority.”

Ryan Rubin, UK director of risk consultancy Protiviti, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Robert Half, said: “These statistics indicate that either there is an inherent trust in cloud service providers - that they have good security governance in place or there is a lack of visibility of potential risks associated with using them.

“However, there is also a potential risk that CIOs are not always involved in the overall business making decision to procure cloud services, limiting their ability to carry out effective due diligence before these services are adopted.

“Since an increasingly higher percentage of IT security breaches involve third parties, gaining assurance from cloud providers is critical to managing information security risk.

“While companies may migrate IT towards cloud providers in an attempt to reduce costs, they cannot outsource their information security risks.

“Unless adequately managed, the cost of security breaches - either regulatory and or legal - may outweigh the perceived benefits of moving into the cloud.”

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