Security confidence low, but people buy anyway

Businesses surveyed are seeing more online businesses, but have continuing concerns about security.

US and Western European businesses are seeing their online sales grow, but many have questions about the security of their networks, according to a survey released by RSA Security.

Three-quarters of businesses surveyed said they have completed more online transactions in the last year than previously and only 1% say they saw a decline. But 67% of US businesses reported some concern about the vulnerability of their networks, while 37% of businesses in the UK, France and Germany also expressed security concerns.

Results from business and consumer respondents to the survey showed a gap between security confidence and use of the internet for transactions, says RSA in its first internet confidence security index.

“The challenge for (security vendors) is figuring out how to close the gap; how to help businesses close the gap,” says John Worrall, RSA’s senior vice president of marketing. “What happens if this is a problem going forward and people have bad experiences?”

The results suggest that both consumers and businesses believe they’re taking some chances by conducting business online, says Art Coviello, RSA’s president and chief executive officer. It is “astonishing to see the extent to which both groups are willing to assume some level of risk,” he says.

Separately, a survey released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) found that IT decision-makers in North America and Europe have grown more concerned about security over the past two years. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents in the BSA survey say they have increased the number of IT security projects, and three-quarters say IT security has become a critical part of their business planning.

Of the risks associated with lax information security, IT decision-makers were most concerned about losing business due to system downtime, encompassing 81% of respondents. Seventy-four per cent say legal compliance and liability was a concern, and 73% say protecting the value of the secured assets was a concern.

The study, commissioned by BSA and conducted in January by Forrester Consulting, was released at the 2006 RSA Security Conference. Forrester surveyed 410 IT decision-makers in the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and France.

In the RSA survey, 86% of US, UK and French companies consider that their online dealings are “quite”, “very,” or “extremely” secure, but only 64% of German business respondents felt the same way. Twenty-seven per cent of businesses cite their organisation’s network as a point of vulnerability.

The RSA survey conducted online with 601 business respondents and 603 consumers in the US, the UK, Germany and France. The data was gathered in September and December 2005.

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