Companies looking to increase productivity should focus on making security a business driver, according to one speaker at an IT security seminar in Toronto yesterday.

Denise Vance, chief research officer with IDC Canada in Toronto, told attendees during its Security Counsel 2005 that Canada lags behind the United States in productivity. Canada’s GDP per capita was 19 per cent lower than its southern neighbour.

The relationship between corporate security and productivity.

  • Canada’s GDP per capita was 19 per cent lower than the US.
  • Security spending by Canadian companies is only about 2.39 per cent of total IT budgets, while in the U.S. it is closer to five per cent or about $15 billion.
  • IT security was third in priority among Canadian enterprises.

While increasing productivity was a perennial concern amongst Canadian executives, Vance believes Canadian companies are not leveraging to the fullest capacity their IT budgets and infrastructures in order to improve productivity. One particular area is security. Vance suggested Canadian businesses are spending too little on security, less than their American counterparts. Security spending by Canadian companies is only about 2.39 per cent of total IT budgets, while in the U.S. it is closer to five per cent or about $15 billion.

“We are not sure what is enough, but it is a lot more than what is being spent right now,” Vance added.

According to statistics provided by IDC Canada and compiled in 2004, amongst 460 large and medium-sized companies in Canada, IT security was third in priority after network upgrade and improvement and Microsoft operating system upgrades. Amongst 100 executive interviewed by IDC Canada, security was near the bottom of the list of IT priorities.

Ken Williams, vice-president & area manager for Canada, CA Technical Services with Computer Associates in Mississauga, Ont., said too many companies make the mistake of seeing security as being focused solely on such things as viruses, spyware or security breaches. While all these are important, it tends to mistake security as a technology issue, instead of focusing on security as a business enabler, Williams added.

“If your network goes down because of a security breach, what does that cost you?” asked Joe Greene, vice-president of IT security research for IDC Canada in Ottawa. “How does it affect your brand image?”

Greene suggested security should be viewed as part of building and maintaining brand loyalty and trust. Effective security policies and protections of business and private data are key to maintaining a strong corporate brand image and investor and consumer confidence. The recent loss of private information by Time Warner and LexisNexis, and ChoicePoint only reinforce the bond between security and business confidence. Security failures reflect badly on the company and have a financial impact.

Related links:

Canadian academia, industry team up for IT security

Psychology of IT security

Practicing proactive security



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