What keeps network managers up at night?

Van Dyke Software's 5th annual enterprise security survey

Network managers are responsible for keeping systems up and running as well as securing their environment, the latter of which causes many a sleepless night - especially when budgets are being cut.

Van Dyke Software's 5th annual enterprise security survey of 300 network administrators showed that the operations group within companies is focusing on IT security more than in the past. Van Dyke commissioned independent firm Amplitude Research to conduct the survey that revealed less than one-fourth of those polled say they can "sleep like a baby at night," compared to one-third that rested easy in 2007.

"In summary, the study results from last year showed the increasing importance of, and activities related to, securing remote access and secure file transfers," the study reads. "The 2008 results confirm the 'breakout' in 2007 from earlier years related to these subject areas, though there was some deceleration of these trends in 2008. At the same time, though, network administrators were more likely in 2008 than in 2007 to report concerns that 'keep them awake at night.'"

Survey respondents were asked to rank their top security management issues, and this year securing remote access topped the list with 50 per cent of those polled identifying that as a concern. Keeping virus definitions up to date came in second, with 42 per cent finding that a cause for concern. Monitoring the network for intrusions kept 40 per cent on their toes, while secure file transfer worried about 33 per cent of respondents. Another 30 per cent reported they worry about patching systems, and 27 per cent felt challenged by password management.

Other security management issues that worried network administrators included network use monitoring (21 per cent), user awareness (19 per cent), user training (14 per cent), managing logs (12 per cent) and replacing nonsecure protocols (11 per cent).

On top of being worried about managing security, network managers must also worry about the budget dollars allocated to IT. More than two-thirds of the network administrators said their companies sufficiently budgeted to support current information security and management needs, but fewer are feeling confident in their environments.

For example, 81 per cent of survey respondents said they did not expect an IT budget decrease in 2008 compared to 2007, but one-third of those polled said they are aware of their company stopping, postponing or canceling IT security endeavors or projects as a result of the perceived poor economy. More than 20 per cent of that one-third said the budget cut would represent 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the overall IT budget planned for 2008, and another 20 per cent of that one-third said they expect to see a 21 per cent to 31 per cent cut in dollars allocated to IT.

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