Internet issues have overtaken viruses and malicious code as the prime concerns of European IT security managers.
So says the Datapro 1998 'Worldwide survey on information security issues', released at the Gartner Group symposium in Cannes last week.
According to Gartner subsidiary Datapro, reported virus incidents were down, possibly due to increased use of antivirus software and greater awareness of the threat.
Datapro's annual survey, now in its eighth year, is based on a questionnaire sent out to information security specialists round the world. Nearly 300 responses were received from Europe.
The European IT security specialists put Internet access at the top of the list, with 26 per cent listing it as a threat they were concerned about. Concern about viruses and malicious code was down, with only 24 per cent mentioning it this year, compared to last year's 34 per cent. Password concerns came in next with 18 per cent.
Respondents were also asked to identify up to three specific security incidents that had happened at their organisations over the last 12 months. Here viruses and malicious code came top (37 per cent), followed by computer theft (16 per cent) and password exposure (seven per cent).
Virus incidents reported to Datapro have been steadily declining, with 46 per cent mentioning them in 1997 and 63 per cent the year before.
Muninder Ahsan, research analyst at Datapro, said this steady downward trend showed that regular use of antivirus products is having the desired effect.
"The security problem is not necessarily external. You need to make sure that your organisation also looks inwards, and has a clear policy for acceptable employee behaviour," she said.
Looking ahead, Ahsan warned IT organisations to make sure they understand all the implications of the new data protection regulations currently coming into effect across the European Union.
The basic directive came into force at the end of October, but in the UK the deadline for legislation has been extended until January 1999.
Ahsan said that the British Computer Society has been doing a good job publicising the changes. She also commended the c:cure scheme (www.c-cure.org), a certification programme that enables an organisation to demonstrate compliance with BS 7799, a recent UK standard that tackles information security management from a business perspective.
Gartner research director Nick Jones warned that IT preparations for the euro provide fertile ground for fraud.
"There will be an increase in fraud because of the euro," he said.
"Unfortunately we have three things happening at the same time," he went on. "You'll have more contractors crawling over your systems than you've ever had before so you can't maintain the same level of staff security.
"The second problem is that euro compliant solutions are inherently vulnerable to fraud - we have all these rounding algorithms and residual error issues.
"The third problem is that people's brains just won't be calibrated for the euro, so there will be more inadvertent error and people will exploit that," he concluded.
Ian Stobie is technical editor of Computing.
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