Data Security Measures Increase in Importance: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

In 2011, data security is seen as of equal importance with finding ways to save money for the IT department.

IT and data security specialist Becrypt commissioned research into attitudes and trends within the public sector, conducted using qualitative interview techniques with a range of public sector organizations shows that data security is now far higher on the agenda than in either of Becrypt’s previous two surveys. The survey also confirms that mobile working has increased virtually across the board. Employees are now asking for more flexible working arrangements, for a variety of different reasons, including reduced commuting to save time and costs and to meet environmental commitments.

The research showed that there has been a significant change in attitudes to data security in the public sector, with 92 percent of those questioned now having specific policies for dealing with sensitive data. In 2009, Becrypt revealed that only 50 percent of public sector organizations had policies for dealing with sensitive information and in 2007 it was only 10 percent. In 2011 data security is seen as of equal importance with finding ways to save money for the IT department.

The survey also found that remote and home working has increased almost across the board, with 85 percent of organizations saying it had increased and 15 percent saying it had stayed the same. Ninety-two percent of those questioned stated that if affordable, and data security was assured, they would extend mobile working to more employees. Slightly less than half of the councils questioned said that all employees were able to work remotely (46 percent). Just over a third of organizations (38 percent) allow people to work from home using their own equipment via a secure connection, and 85 percent provide a council-issued laptop for accessing the network.

The "Insider Threat" was by far the biggest concern for security officers with 54 percent of those questioned expressing concerns about controlling how people accessed and used data, and enforcing security policies, and 15 percent worried about maintaining security while costs were being cut. Just under a third of organizations expect to reduce spending on security, with just under half expecting it to stay the same. Seventy percent of those interviewed expect the overall IT budget to be reduced in the next year with only 15 percent saying it will stay unchanged.

"As the government continues to drive cost cutting measures in the coming years, Becrypt believes that we will see more and more public sector staff working from home and hot desking. The technology to provide secure remote access at an increasingly low cost price that is CESG-approved for handling sensitive data is now available," said Marc Hocking, CTO at Becrypt. "As local authorities look at all options to save money while maintaining front line services, secure remote working ticks a lot of boxes. Staff prefer it because it enables them to manage a better work/life balance, time and resources are saved, and services are maintained."