Security spend depends on past investment, says Gartner

Those who have kept up-to-date with security won't need to spend so much, analyst firm says

Organisations that have reached a high level of IT security practice maturity can safely scale back security spending to between 3% and 4% of their IT budget by 2008, according to research firm Gartner.

By contrast, those that are inefficient or have historically under-invested in security may spend upwards of 8% of their IT budget on security. This means that many organisations will still be investing aggressively for the next few years, says Rich Mogull, a Gartner research vice president.

Mogull, who chaired the recent Gartner IT Security Summit in Sydney, says there are now solutions to most information security problems.

“It’s just a matter of implementing the technology efficiently and effectively so resources can be focused on new threats,” he says.

“While information security has become a highly specialised branch of IT, commodity security functions are often being returned to IT operations.

“Organisations that are still impacted by everyday routine threats must ramp up and become more mature in their approach.”

Mogull says the message isn’t about more security but more security process.

“Security now has executive attention, and we need to treat it like a business issue, not just a technology problem,” he says.

Gartner also recently released its updated “hype cycle” for information security technologies, designed to help executives make decisions about how to allocate their security budgets.

It shows technologies such as spam filtering and web services security standards moving rapidly towards broad acceptance, while the widespread adoption of biometrics remains more than ten years away.

“Aside from the age-old need to ‘keep the bad guys out’, compliance with government and industry regulations is now playing a significant role in security spending decisions,” Mogull says.

“In deciding when to adopt a new security technology, timing is crucial — invest too soon and you risk the pain and expense of an immature technology.

“Invest too slowly and you risk being left behind and leaving your organisation vulnerable.”

Mogull also says security products are converging, with, say, firewalls, antivirus, and antispam being combined in one package.

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