IT leaders on the harsh reality of cyber-protection

  • Security has become primary consideration over other business initiatives
  • In APAC, 63% abandoned or delayed new business initiative because of security
IT leaders on the harsh reality of cyber-protection

ACCORDING to new research by Fortinet, 91% of Asia Pacific CIOs and CTOs (chief information and technology officers) believe the job of keeping their enterprise protected is becoming more challenging.
Serious boardroom pressure to keep the enterprise secure has jumped almost one-third in the last 12 months, making security paramount and a primary consideration over other business initiatives, the company said in a statement.

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This and other findings come from an independent survey commissioned by Fortinet on 504 enterprise IT decision makers (ITDMs) in the Asia Pacific countries of Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.
This was part of a bigger survey of over 1,600 ITDMs, largely from 500+ employee organisations, around the world, Fortinet said.
All respondents were sourced from independent market research company Lightspeed GMI’s online panel.
Asia Pacific highlights include:

  • Among ITDMs recording the highest boardroom pressure, 63% admit abandoning or delaying at least one new business initiative because of IT security concerns.
  • The increasing frequency and complexity of threats (87%) and the new demands of emerging technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) and biometrics (85%) pose the biggest challenge to ITDMs to keep their organisations secure.
  • The majority of ITDMs have been provoked into action by rising data privacy concerns (89%) and securing big data initiatives (89%); in the majority of cases this means new IT security investment.

Boards prioritise security
The growing awareness of IT security within the boardroom – and its resulting pressure and involvement – was cited as a major contributor to making the IT security job more difficult, with three-quarters rating awareness of senior management as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ today, up from barely 51% one year ago.
The survey also unveils that a total of 54% of all Asia Pacific ITDMs surveyed have slowed down or cancelled a new application, service or other initiative because of cyber-security fears.
The figure is 63% among those reporting a very high level of boardroom pressure and scrutiny around IT security.
Mobility-related applications and strategies are the biggest sticking points, with cloud also scoring high.
Concerns rise with emerging tech
IT leaders on the harsh reality of cyber-protection 
The rising volume/ complexity of APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats), DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and other cyber-threats, and the demands of emerging technology trends like IoT and biometrics, are the most prevalent drivers making ITDMs’ jobs more challenging.
There is a big expectation across industry sectors for biometrics to arrive very soon, with 40% of Asia Pacific ITDMs claiming the technology has already landed or will do so in the next 12 months. Sixty-two percent say they already have the tools to ensure it can be managed securely.
Of the 38% that doesn’t feel prepared today, 43% believe they will struggle to secure biometrics in the future as well.
Driving spending
The high profile issues surrounding data privacy are provoking action, with 89% of Asia Pacific ITDMs planning to change their outlook on IT security strategy in response.
Of these, 56% are inclined to invest more money and resources to address the challenge, with 44% preferring instead to rethink existing strategy.
Meanwhile big data and data analytics were cited by 89% of respondents as a change driver for IT security strategy, with 49% of the respondents planning investments.
Industry sectors with the highest predisposition to invest in IT security were FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) at 61% and Retail at 59%.
The research also indicated organisations of greater size have the greater tendency to invest.
When asked if they had been provided with sufficient human and financial resources for IT security in the last 12 months, 77% of Asia Pacific ITDMs said ‘yes.’ A total of 80% feel they will also have sufficient resources in the next 12 months.
Need for cyber resilience
“With IT security on the boardroom agenda, this and other challenges are clearly adding weight onto the shoulders of senior IT professionals and questioning the ability of some organisations to exploit innovation while remaining secure,” said John Maddison, vice president of product marketing at Fortinet.
“These organisations must act now to address the impact of the growing threat environment and increased scrutiny on IT security, re-evaluating their goals to ensure they strike the right balance and achieve resilience in the face of cyber-threats.
“The good news is that many are positive and feeling well equipped with human and financial resources for the IT security challenges that lie ahead.
“However, to do so points toward intelligent new strategies and more investment in security technologies,” he added.
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