Security spending pales beside printing

7 Feb 2005

Businesses in Ireland and the UK spend more on printers and related peripherals than on security even though the latter issue is considered a high priority, the analyst firm IDC has said.

A combination of continuing advancements in security threats, along with a realisation that IT systems are vital to business, has meant that IT security continues to occupy the minds of end-user organisations in the UK and Ireland, said Duncan Brown, UK consulting director with IDC. “IT security breaches represent tangible business risk, which must be managed,” he said.

As a result of this, IDC has forecast a continued increase in outlay on IT security products and solutions. “While this is encouraging for vendors of such solutions, it is worth remembering that businesses still spend more on printers and peripherals than on IT security,” Brown pointed out. “Complacency should be far from the thoughts of IT managers and vendors alike.”

IDC expects the IT security market to grow by 16pc during this calendar year. A very high percentage of organisations surveyed by IDC – 86pc in total – said that their security spend would grow even when budgets are frozen or cut.

The firm has identified a shift in where this additional money is being allocated. On the software side, growth will be slower among more established technologies such as secure content management, firewalls and virtual private networks. “The key high-growth areas are 3A (authentication, authorisation, administration) software, which manages the security environment, and intrusion detection and protection software,” said Brown.

Businesses are increasingly choosing integrated suites of security capability, rather than point products, IDC has found. “The sophistication of threats must be countered by equally sophisticated IT security regimes, implemented and managed by specialist staff. That is why we also expect high growth in managed security services,” Brown added.

As for hardware, firewall/virtual private network appliances have the highest level of adoption according to IDC, although it said that growth rates are fading. However, one third of businesses plan to implement some combination of biometrics, tokens or smart cards for network or appliance authentication, as well as installing hardware-based intrusion detection appliances.

Outlining a further trend for the year, IDC said that mobile technology is beginning to have an impact. More than 50pc of organisations consider mobile connectivity for employees as being important. This bring security concerns, Brown warned. This is because the majority of mobile devices are used away from the organisation’s physical infrastructure, so that they bypass the protection usually offered by a firewall. “For many organisations, the legacy of Christmas is a plethora of unregistered and unprotected PDAs and BlackBerry devices connecting to the network. Controlling purchasing of mobile devices is therefore a priority,” Brown said.

However, research by IDC found that many IT managers struggle with the task of identifying suitable security systems for their organisations. “They complain that it can be a challenge just trying to keep track of what’s going on in the market, what solutions vendors are offering and which products work with which,” Brown noted. He said that product manufacturers need to realise that organisations are not buying security solutions on features alone. “They expect robust performance and the latest updates. What will differentiate an offering is the extent of integration with other technologies, security or otherwise.”

By Gordon Smith