By The Numbers: July 2003

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Hail to the Chief—Of Security, That Is
The rise of the chief security officer (CSO) is another indication that firms are starting to invest seriously in protecting their information technology. Sixty-three percent of the financial institutions surveyed either currently have a chief of security or plan to hire one within the next two years. The vibe isn’t always good, however-nearly a quarter of the survey-takers called information security a “necessary evil.”

Legal and regulatory requirements are the main reasons firms devote their attention to privacy issues. But such concerns are still far from the top on anyone’s priority list: Only 40% of the companies surveyed have a chief privacy officer, and only 6% intend to appoint one.

Web Hosting Returns Home
With bandwidth becoming cheaper, firms are more likely to host their own Web content: Nearly four out of five firms surveyed by Forrester Research perform at least some of their Web functions in-house. Those that use external Web hosts are also likely to outsource other services, such as frame relay/ATM management, disaster-recovery and virtual private networks.

Managing Programs
What do world-class companies have in common? A permanent program management office (PMO), according to the 2003 Profile of World-Class Information Technology by the Hackett Group. This best practice is crucial for monitoring policy compliance and for coordinating projects. An optimal PMO should be staffed with both business and technology officers who have the authority to set priorities and allocate resources.

Identity Crisis
the Federal Trade Commission received more than 161,000 reports of identity theft last year, and the losses are adding up. Such fraud costs businesses more than $1 billion a year, estimates Needham, Mass., analyst firm the towergroup inc. Banks and government benefits agencies are Hardest hit, with 2002 losses growing by about a third from 2001.

Policing E-mail
Corporate policies on employee e-mail use are starting to have some bite. A recent survey found that 59% of U.S. companies are enforcing policies rigorously, including termination and-gulp!-legal action. What’s the rush? Maybe the fact that 14% of companies have been required by the government to hand over employee e-mails, and 5% have faced lawsuits resulting from e-mail.