Survey: Corporate security policies

Here are the highlights from our Survey on Security Policies in the Workplace. This survey, which drew 174 responses, ran for the month of February.

We were surprised to learn that more than half of the respondents said they either do not have a security policy

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or that they are currently trying to figure out how to create one. We also thought it interesting to note that some companies do not even have a security budget at this time.

You'll also see below the breakout of the biggest security challenges. Topping the list are remote security, e-mail and viruses. The hardest part of security policies to enforce: End user awareness (which curbs stupid user tricks), passwords and e-mail.

Some demographic data that we didn't expect: Not many respondents have "security" in their job titles. Most were IT managers/directors and network/systems administrators. Also, when asked how long they had been in the security field, more than 50% said less than three years.

Actual data:


Q: How does your company handle security policies?

-Formally, with a written plan explained to all new hires = 47.1%
-Informally/word of mouth. = 30.5%
-We are trying to understand how to create/implement one = 18.4%
-We have no plans to create a security policy = 4%

Q: Rate how effective you think your written security policy is:

-Very Effective = 9.3%
-Effective = 16.9%
-Somewhat effective = 37.8%
-Not at all effective = 7.6%
-Not applicable = 28.5%

Q: Rate how effective you think your informal policy is:

-Very Effective = 2.9%
-Effective = 20.1%
-Somewhat effective = 47.7%
-Not at all effective = 12.1%
-Not applicable = 17.2%

Q: If you have a formal policy, how often is it updated?

-Monthly = 12.4%
-Annually = 28.8%
-Every few years = 15.3%
-Never = 7.1%
-Not applicable = 36.5%

Q: How often do you check for policy compliance?

-Daily = 6.9%
-Weekly = 7.5%
-Monthly = 21.8%
-Annually = 17.8%
-Never = 17.2%
-Not applicable = 28.7%

Q: What are your company's biggest security challenges? (multiple responses allowed)

-Remote security (VPNs, notebooks, PDAs, firewalls, e-mail) = 71.3%
-E-mail security = 69.4%
-Viruses/malicious code/DDoS = 64.9%
-Intrusion detection = 56.3%
-Stupid user tricks/human error = 52.9%

Q: What part of your security policy is the hardest to enforce? (open response compiled into a top five)

-Human error/stupid user mistakes
-E-mail viruses/attachments/virus awareness
-Enforcing the security policy
-Personal use of computers

This was first published in April 2001

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