Security concerns fatten IT budgets

Australian IT professionals will devote a higher proportion of their total IT budgets to security compared to last year as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Aurora Energy CIO Reefe Brighton said the spending push matches an increased threat level and its growing imposition on infrastructure.

"For example, of all the applications which run on our desktop and laptop fleet, virus protection is becoming the most performance-bound and is likely to become our primary driver for replacement of PCs," Brighton said.

Brighton said new firewalls are anticipated at his organisation as well as monitoring software.

"We had been considering VPNs (virtual private networks) but these are now firmly on the backburner until we see the wash up," Brighton said.

The focus on security, he said, does not reflect a budget increase "but I do have to re-prioritise the spending to fit it in".

A Computerworld and JP Morgan Securities survey of 180 IT managers in the US and Australia found more than half will increase security spending in 2002 IT budgets.

National Jet Systems IT manager, Steve Tucker, said, "We expect to devote a higher proportion of our IT spend to security; previously there wasn't a specified budget in this area.

"Now, we are contracting services to assess our infrastructure, and to put measures and checks in place."

Tucker said his organisation would possibly invest more in intrusion-detection "sniffing" technology, "so we can better audit threats and risks within our LAN environment".

Getting money budgeted for security won't be any easier at his organisation, he said.

"The same cost-benefit rules still apply, and despite the increased public awareness, we still need to put a strong case forward to demonstrate the business benefits of new technology or solutions," Tucker said.

An IT manager from a government department, who requested anonymity, told Computerworld she believes there will be a slight increase in security spending, but mainly due to viruses including Nimda and that this will apply "across the board in government".

Another anonymous IT manager from a manufacturing company, who is responsible for an IT budget of more than $2 million, said his organisation plans to invest further in security enhancement projects, including monitoring.

In the US, VPNs, antivirus and intrusion-detection software, and Secure Sockets Layer products topped the list of technologies that companies will deploy over the next 12 months.

The US survey found companies with annual revenues of more than $US500 million will spend the most on security, which will account for 11.2 per cent of their total IT budgets, up slightly over the average of 10.3 per cent for all companies. In comparison, security spending across all companies accounts for an average of 7.4 per cent of this year's IT budgets.

In the weeks since September 11, various IT managers in the US have commented that getting money budgeted for security is far easier than it has been in years past.

The US survey said most companies are beefing up security spending while their total IT budgets are either decreasing or staying flat.

More than half -- 59 per cent of companies -- said they expect their 2002 IT budgets to decline or stay the same as their 2001 budgets.

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