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Despite the apparent growth in security incidents and hacker attacks over recent years, a clear majority (72 per cent) of UK security professionals feel their organisation is more secure than it was 12 months ago.

Organisations are no longer on the back foot in the fight against security threats, with only 11 per cent of respondents in a survey of 100 chief security officers (CSOs) and IT directors saying they take a 'reactive only' approach to security.

More firms are putting in place contingency plans to ensure they can continue to operate in spite of evolving digital and physical threats, the Cisco-sponsored poll found. Survey respondents have contingency plans in place for power failure (96 per cent), fire (95 per cent), loss of data (93 per cent), physical access to buildings (86 per cent), and flooding (80 per cent).

IT pros have long complained that management frequently fails to understand the importance of their work. This may be changing, as the survey, which was conducted by market research outfit Vanson Borne on behalf of Cisco, found that only 23 per cent of respondents felt that security is still not recognised as a boardroom level issue.

Firms are also making progress in educating staff on security issues. The majority of respondents have extensive IT security training in place, such as acceptable usage policies (92 per cent), email usage policies (85 per cent), password policies (81 per cent), and training in the need for backups (59 per cent).

"It is very encouraging to see that, despite ongoing reports of new threats and breaches, businesses across all sectors are feeling better protected," Cisco Systems senior security advisor Paul King said.

"Businesses have recognised the importance of implementing comprehensive security strategies and are beginning to anticipate what might be around the corner." ®

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