The security risks keeping CIOs awake at night
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The security risks keeping CIOs awake at night

Maxine-Laurie Marshall — March 2016

Global research highlights how the big security worries of IT leaders are changing fast.

Some of the biggest security concerns for CIOs in recent times — particularly around the use of ‘citizen tech’ in the workplace — have started to fade into insignificance.

In a survey of 400 IT decision-makers, the challenges of shadow IT and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) were cited as major risks by only 4% and 3% of respondents respectively. Rather, the research — conducted by TechValidate for open source software company Red Hat — points back to more classic threats: employees not taking appropriate measures, malicious acts by both insiders and external forces, and unpatched devices (see graph below).

Red-hat-TechValidate-graph 001 450

That shift mirrors a straw poll by I-CIO on the changing attitudes to shadow IT, which revealed that many IT executives now see user-led IT as something to be encouraged rather than condemned (see CIOs start to view ‘shadow IT’ as a catalyst for innovation).

Customer-centricity driving security

Against that backdrop, the pressure on CIOs to deliver robust yet non-intrusive security is only growing as businesses everywhere intensify their focus on customer-centricity. CIOs questioned as part of the Red Hat study named customer trust as the top business concern for security (47%). More surprising is that revenue loss as a result of security breaches was only named as a top concern by 12%, putting it at the bottom of the list of concerns (see graph below) — though that might just recognize the direct link between customer trust and sales.

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As well as revealing some unexpected numbers, the study confirmed some common — and somewhat paradoxical — thinking among business leaders. It showed that while almost half believe IT security is of “critical importance” (43%), the vast majority are only willing to approve small — or no — increases in security spend in 2016. For the largest group of respondents (42%), IT security budgets will be flat, while 39% are working with a small increase.
Hybrid IT challenges
One of the evolving challenges for CIOs is dealing with security across both traditional IT and new digital application development — so-called fast and slow IT. At the start of the year, another TechValidate/Red Hat survey asked 600 IT decision-makers about how they were planning to manage that new hybrid environment.

The hot technology of containers (the packaging of application code so it can be moved between different run-time environments) was the most popular approach for helping to deliver applications faster, selected by 35% of respondents. This was followed fairly closely by platform-as-a-service and public cloud, which were cited by 24% and 18% respectively.

Traditional IT approaches were spread across a large cross-section of options, with virtualization (when used for both optimization and migration) being selected by 84% of respondents. Increasing automation and data center/infrastructure consolidation were the next priorities, with 58% and 35% respectively (see graph below).

Red-Hat-TechValidate-fast-slow-IT-graph


But those challenges of striking the optimal balance between cloud and traditional IT models are not just about technology. As Cynthia Stoddard, CIO at storage company NetApp, told I-CIO recently: “A smooth journey to hybrid IT is as much about people skills and change management as it is technical planning and strategic IT leadership.”

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