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Data Security moves up the agenda and is now seen as important as cost savings within the public sector, shows research from Becrypt

April 2011 by BECRYPT

Becrypt has commissioned research into attitudes and trends within the public sector. The research, which was conducted using qualitative interview techniques with a range of public sector organisations across the UK 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. Staff 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% of those questioned now having specific policies for dealing with sensitive data. In 2009, Becrypt revealed that only 50% of public sector organisations had policies for dealing with sensitive information and in 2007 it was only 10%. In 2011 data security is seen as of equal important 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% of organisations saying in had increased and 15% saying it had stayed the same. 92% of those quested 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%). Just over a third of organisations (38%) allow people to work from home using their own equipment via a secure connection, and 85% provide a council issued laptop for accessing the network.

When it comes to the use of security technology, again things have much improved since Becrypt’s earlier surveys. Now nine out of ten councils are using VPN, port control and strong passwords, and just over eight out of ten are using encryption and other technologies such as thin client solutions like Citrix and terminal services.

The Insider Threat was by far the biggest concern for security officers with 54% of those questioned expressing concerns about controlling how people accessed and used data, and enforcing security policies, and 15% worried about maintaining security while costs were being cut. Just under a third of organisations expect to reduce spending on security, with just under half expecting it to stay the same. 70% of those interviewed expect the overall IT budget to be reduced in the next year with only 15% saying it will stay unchanged.

There was however, a seemingly complacent element with nearly a quarter (23%) saying that they didn’t have any security worries. This was surprising given the recent publicity given to the Stuxnet and RSA security breaches.

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