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SA firms still lag on security spend

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Information security has become a buzz word in the IT industry with more organisations realising how important it is to protect their networks not only from external threats but also from those that originate within the company. Amazingly, even with all the dialogue taking place around this subject, companies are still allocating a very small portion of their total IT budget to information security. 

This was the finding of a survey commissioned by Comztek and McAfee. The study was conducted late in 2007 and involved a total 418 respondents, the majority representing SMB information security solutions providers from across South Africa.
The survey reveals that South African businesses realise the importance of preventative measures when it comes to protecting their data integrity from internal and external threats. Almost all the respondents’ customers – 95% to be exact – were interested in stopping security breaches at the gateway, before they even enter their environment. The same number attested to being concerned about the high levels of spam and spyware that have hit South Africa in recent years.
External threats were not the only concern identified by the respondents’ customers. Internal threats, mainly from staff members, were also acknowledged as an area of concern. 90% of the respondents confirmed their customers were concerned about the abuse of bandwidth by employees and were interested in tools that would assist them in the enforcement of security policies.
However, while one would expect these organisations to invest substantially in securing their networks, the study shows a completely different picture.
Of the 418 surveyed organisations, more than 70% said their customers allocated less than 15% of their total IT budget to security and that these companies still viewed price as the most important consideration when it comes to purchasing security solutions, opting for the cheaper solutions available on the market.
Product functionality and features came in at a close second as a purchasing consideration, while distributor and vendor support ranked the lowest at influencing the purchasing decision.
For the solution providers, 75% revealed that the ability to manage their customers’ security concerns remotely was the most important aspect of a security solution. With vehicle traffic congestion continuing its current disruptive trend in South Africa, remote access to mission critical solutions will soon be a requirement for the majority of local businesses.