Network security is top of mind for executives

AT&T said that network security is regarded by executives as the single most important attribute of their network, according to the results of a global survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for AT&T. The research reveals that a majority of executives (52 percent) now believe that having a converged network gives their companies better defence against IT security breaches. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent feel that IP helps ensure business continuity following an emergency.

The survey of 395 senior executives called “Network Security: Protecting Productivity” also shows that, at the same time, network security concerns remain at the top of the list of barriers to implementing a converged IP network. IP convergence, although it may increase vulnerability in some ways, promises to take the network defences to new levels of sophistication and reliability, and today organizations are equipped with incomparably better tools to protect the network than they were even in the late 1990s.

The EIU white paper shows that, increasingly, executives feel especially concerned about the growing volumes of customer data they hold and manipulate, and 45 percent say that the holding of sensitive customer data on their network makes them feel “extremely” vulnerable from an electronic security perspective. Another 41 percent say the process of analyzing and acting upon detailed customer data also significantly increases their vulnerability.

Among the worst security threats cited by nearly half (49 percent) of executives is hackers. Protecting against viruses and worms also remains top of mind for companies but emerging as one of the most feared threats is identity theft — mentioned by one-third of executives — and their concerns are set to rise over the next three years.

The EIU research has also highlighted the importance of the chief security officer (CSO), and although typically the CEO remains the primary decision- maker for electronic security decision (with the exception in Europe where the CIO is more likely to hold this role), the role of the CSO is rising, with 12 percent of companies confirming this as the main decision-maker.

“Security is becoming more and more important in today’s collaborative environment”, comments Lloyd Salvage, AT&T’s vice president in the U.K. “We are constantly talking to our customers and helping them to re-evaluate their requirements to ensure that their businesses are adequately protected at all times.”

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