Survey: 90 Percent Of Business Leaders Investing To Secure Computing Endpoints

IBM recently released results from a survey of nearly 300 information technology decision makers on their companies' endpoint security initiatives. The study revealed that 90 percent of business leaders are investing in resources to better manage the security of their endpoints, including servers, PCs and laptops. Over half of those surveyed are also extending security to smartphones and other instrumented devices, with plans to increase spending in this area.

It's estimated that by 2015 there will be approximately one trillion connected devices, whether traditional PCs or laptops, mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, point-of-sale (POS) systems such as ATMs and retail kiosks, or sensors in smart meters, buildings and other off-premise devices.  Each of these devices will be generating, transmitting, consuming or analyzing a portion of the 275 exabytes of data Gartner predicts will be reached per day by 2020, making it critical that they remain available, secure and configured in accordance with company and regulatory policies and requirements. 

As the survey results indicate, organizations today are facing an evolving landscape, with new computing endpoints being added to their network every day. Not only must they manage the security of PCs and laptops, but they must also keep up with demands to secure the influx of smartphones and other instrumented devices interacting with their corporate infrastructure.

Key findings include:

  • Although 73 percent of business leaders surveyed currently allow nontraditional endpoints, such as mobile devices or tablets, to connect to their corporate networks; 36 percent feel that these devices are not adequately protected and would like to see their companies invest more in managing the security of smartphones, POS systems and other smart devices.
  • Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed indicated that their company is planning to increase their investment in security to manage and protect nontraditional endpoints. 
  • 80 percent of respondents expect their organization to add new endpoints to their network in 2011.
  • While the vast majority (72 percent) of respondents say that PCs and laptops are the endpoints which pose the greatest danger to their firm's IT security; smartphones and tablets are viewed as a growing threat.
  • 33 percent of all respondents acknowledged that the inability to have visibility into all of their endpoints is their greatest security concern.

The survey was conducted by Zogby International, on behalf of IBM, of 289 IT professionals in decision-making positions. 

"The endpoint of 2011 is no longer just a PC or laptop, but the entire range of interconnected and instrumented devices and sensors that comprise the smarter planet," said Steve Robinson, general manager, IBM Security Solutions.  "This trend continues to validate IBM's strategy to invest more in endpoint management, such as the recent release of Tivoli Endpoint Manager. It's our view that a managed endpoint is a secure one."

A preview of the IBM X-Force 2010 Trend & Risk Report indicates that while mobile computing offers the enterprise significant benefits, security still remains a primary hurdle for organizations managing the influx of these devices.  Key trends highlighted in this new section of the report include:

  • While vulnerabilities and attacks exist, exploitation is not prevalent yet. 
  • Instead, most IT professionals view the data that can be stored on them and how that can be misused or lost as the main security threat associated with these devices.
  • Organizations are facing increased security concerns as employee's use of personally-owned devices in the enterprise increases.
  • Enterprises must ensure control of their data regardless of where it is, including employee-owned or business-issued smartphones.

According to the X-Force Report, mobile computing best practices and security in general still remains relatively immature. The report goes on to highlight best practices organizations can adopt to better manage and deliver security updates to mobile devices, including enhanced password management and data encryption capabilities. The IBM X-Force 2010 Trend & Risk Report will be released in its entirety in March.

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