Security fears go beyond traditional boundaries

Security fears are stalling supply chain initiatives with companies no longer concerned about keeping intruders out of the network but are instead trying to determine how they can provide the right people with secure access to enterprise data.

The growing trend for companies to share information beyond traditional enterprise boundaries has highlighted IT security vulnerabilities and the need for companies to prioritise threats in their technology plans.

A joint AT&T and Economist Group survey of 237 global executives, which included 26 per cent of respondents from the Asia-Pacific region, found companies are battling with the security implications of sharing information with customers, suppliers, partners and government agencies.

Moreover, the information being shared is more sensitive with more transactions conducted online, according to AT&T sales and marketing director Brett Barningham.

"Supply chain management (SCM) projects are slowing down as customers become more prudent; they have to tackle security first before moving on to SCM issues," he said.

"Also, IT is left with the responsibility of adding security onto their company's technology plans and bolting it all together; in a lot of cases it is being done in a piecemeal fashion."

The growing need to gather and analyse customer data has created significant security concerns for 83 per cent of respondents while 73 per cent are concerned about providing business partners with real-time access to supply chain information.

While computer viruses and worms were rated as the number-one threat to electronic security, respondents identified corporate espionage as a major issue in the future showing little faith in their marketplace competitors.

AT&T Asia-Pacific vice president, Steve Lowe, said that while security is being taken far more seriously, business executives are willing to admit they do still make rudimentary errors like opening e-mail attachments from unknown senders or using their own name as passwords.

Lowe said the complexity of managing layers of security within an enterprise is driving more companies to turn to managed security services.

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