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‘We are the worst security risk’ – sys admins confess

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More than half of all senior IT managers (58 per cent) think that their own IT departments offer the largest threat to IT security.

IT security holes in corporate systems often open up during systems upgrades or when integrating new applications into core infrastructure, senior managers reported during a recent (and not particularly comprehensive) survey by security consultants Defcom.

Further questioning revealed that 67 per cent of senior IT security managers felt that their IT departments lacked the requisite skills to handle the widening spectrum of security threats that exist today. Two thirds also believed their employees to be a major threat to corporate IT security. By contrast, only 10 per cent quizzed during the poll identified malicious hackers as the largest threat to security.

The research also revealed that the majority of senior IT managers (70 per cent) are reviewing physical access to corporate premises and computers, alongside monitoring and identification of IT security vulnerabilities, such as computer virus transmission and hacking through the firewall.

Traditionally management of physical security has often been left to facilities or office managers. 'Social engineering' where unauthorised people gain entry into buildings by pretending to be an employee or contractor and then gain access to a PC, stealing or damaging corporate data from inside a company, has brought the issue to the attention of sys admins. Now many sys admins now want a say in tackling the problem.

The study also found nine in ten (90 per cent) of senior IT security managers would rather report to a chief risk officer (CRO) than a chief financial officer or finance director. CROs are being appointed to boards and executive teams, mainly in the US, to manage all corporate risk including credit, market, operational and 'reputation' risks.

Defcom's findings come in a survey of 20 senior IT security managers of household name banks, financial institutions and utilities carried out during conferences this month in London and Edinburgh. ®

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