CEOs, other execs disagree on security

Survey of CEOs and their senior executives show disparity over views of corporate IT security. Disagreements crop up over vulnerability to data breaches and who's responsible for protecting corporate data.

CEOs and their senior executives don't see eye to eye on key security issues, according to a new survey.

Many CEOs don't consider their own companies vulnerable to security attacks and are confident in their ability to combat those attacks, says a survey released Wednesday. However, those findings contrast with the opinions of senior executives who report to the CEO. They see their companies as more vulnerable and are not confident they can stop data theft. The survey was sponsored by security company Ounce Labs and conducted by security researcher Ponemon Institute.

The survey sought to determine how aware CEOs and other senior executives are of their own data projection efforts--how effective they are, how they justify the cost of security, and whether they support the goals of the organization.

The survey found that 82 percent of senior executives said their organization has experienced a data breach, with 94 percent saying they've been hit in the last six months. About 53 percent say they're attacked on a daily or even hourly basis.

Only 58 percent of the senior execs are confident in their company's ability to identify and respond to breaches that result in the theft of information. And just 32 percent think their company is rarely attacked.

Among CEOs, 93 percent are confident in their organization's ability to identify and thwart security breaches. And 48 percent said they believe their organizations are rarely attacked.

Ounce Labs

The responsibility for securing a company's data was also a question mark. Among CEOs, 53 percent felt the chief information officer is accountable for data protection, while only 25 percent of other senior executives felt the same way. And whoever is responsible, that person's job is seen as safe. Around 85 percent of executives questioned believe a failure to stop a security attack under their watch would not jeopardize their job.

Ounce Labs

To gather the data, Ponemon Institute questioned 30 CEOs and 183 other top-level executives who report to CEOs, including chief operating officers, division presidents, and chief information officers, over a six-month period ending in June.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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