Finance houses struggling against hackers

Defences inadequate, says Deloitte

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Financial institutions are losing the war against hackers, according to a new survey out this week. The majority of finance houses (83 per cent) quizzed by management consultant Deloitte acknowledged that their systems had been compromised in the past year, compared to only 39 per cent in 2002. Many of the resulting security breaches have resulted in financial loss, according to Deloitte's 2004 Global Security Survey.

The survey provides a global benchmark for the state of security in the financial sector. Deloitte compiled its data through interviews with senior security officers from the world's top 100 global financial institutions.

"Financial institutions, particularly security officers, are facing greater challenges than ever," said Adel Melek, global leader of Deloitte's IT Risk Management & Security Services, Global Financial Services Industry group. "They are fighting an on-going battle to overcome evolving security threats and to comply with an increasingly stringent regulatory environment but, at the same time, resources have stagnated."

Deloitte's study found that identity management and vulnerability management are the two most common technologies that financial services are piloting or intend to deploy over the coming 18 months. Even with security attacks on the rise, the largest number of respondents (25 per cent) to the survey reported flat security budget growth. Deloitte omits to point out this means that three-quarters of banks and insurance firms are spending more on security, so it isn't all bad.

AV defences not up to scratch

The survey unearthed evidence that companies are sliding backwards in defending against computer viruses and worms, the number one computer security menace. While more than 70 per cent of respondents perceived viruses and worms as the greatest threat to their systems over the next 12 months, only 87 per cent of respondents had fully deployed anti-virus measures. This result is down from 96 per cent in 2003. Rather than letting existing AV licences expire this is likely a sign that organisation realise that existing defences need to be supplemented with extra protection that isn't yet in place.

Management buy-in

Only one third (32 per cent) of respondents felt that security technologies acquired by their organizations were not being utilized effectively. Only a minority (26 per cent) felt that their strategic and security technology initiatives were well aligned.

On the upside, financial institutions showed marked improvement in complying with regulations, with two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents running a program for managing privacy (compared to 56 per cent last year). In addition, the majority (69 per cent) felt that senior management is committed to security projects needed to address regulatory requirements. ®

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Deloitte's 2004 Global Security Survey

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