CSO uncovers rise in security technology use

1 Mar 2006

More Irish businesses used security technology last year than in 2004 and 92pc of internet users in Ireland said they take security precautions, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal.

Just more than two thirds of Irish companies employing 10 or more people use firewalls and 87pc use virus-checking or virus-prevention software, the research found. Some 43pc of businesses use secure servers, 42pc back up their data at an offsite location and 22pc use authentication technology. Slightly more than one in 10 companies encrypt their data for confidentiality reasons, the findings show.

In all cases except for encryption, which remained static, this data shows improved IT security practices over statistics for 2004.

Around three quarters of the 11,056 businesses surveyed for the latest report said that they had updated their IT security systems in the three months from April to June last year. The main security problem for more than one in three Irish businesses last year was a computer virus which caused data loss or impacted on work time.

According to the CSO, other less significant security problems included unauthorised access to enterprise computer systems or data. There were also some reports of blackmail or threats to company computers. The research does not make it clear whether such access came from an external source or from within the business.

As for domestic internet users, more than 812,000 (92pc) said they took security measures when online last year: 71pc used a virus checker, 29pc used firewalls and close to 50pc used online authentication.

Slightly more than half of those in the CSO quarterly national household survey had either installed or upgraded their security systems over the second quarter of last year. Less than 10pc of internet users said they took no steps to protect themselves when online.

Spam was the single greatest problem that household internet users encountered over the 12 months to June 2005. It was cited by 30pc of users. Close to 17pc said they had a computer virus during that time. Less than 1pc of domestic internet users said they had problems relating to fraudulent use of a credit or debit card.

Encouragingly, 731,600 people (57pc) said they encountered no security problems over the same period.

By Gordon Smith