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sarah d_scalet
Senior Editor

Will Security Make a 360-Degree Turn?

Dec 06, 20013 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Not long ago, I was talking with a CTO in Washington, D.C., who commented on how much security had been ratcheted up around the Capitol. Walk up to the building and ask to go inside, and a guard will raise his eyebrows and say, “Oh, no.”

“Security here has made a 360-degree turn,” said this CTO, a longtime resident of the area. What he meant, of course, was that security has taken a 180-degree turn. But sometimes the things you don’t mean to say are closer to the truth.

It’s not just physical security that has turned around since Sept. 11. While the overall IT sector is in the dumps and more people are getting laid off every time you blink, in the security world, the rule seems to be “make hay while the sun ain’t shining.” Every way you count the change, security spending is up.

According to a recent survey from Metricnet, prior to Sept. 11, only 18 percent of companies were spending more than 5 percent of their IT budget on security. As of Nov. 13, 33 percent had decided to spend at least that much on security. Even as IT budgets are getting squeezed, funds are being redirected to information security.

Looking for venture capital? Just toss the word security into the business plan for a wireless company. “You can be sure that the money will continue to flow into wireless security,” predicts Red Herring magazine.

Salaries are still sunny too. While many other IT salaries are declining, the annual base salary for directors of security has risen more than 10 percent in the past year, from $108,000 to almost $120,000, according to a Foote Partners IT salary survey. And those numbers show no sign of declining. “Security is a maturing market,” says David Foote, cofounder of Foote Partners. “When you see an immature area of IT grow, that’s when you see salaries go up.”

That’s a good thing. Somebody needs some good news, and information security is still woefully underfunded. The question is, How long will this push for increased security last?

In our Nov. 15 issue, security guru Bruce Schneier called America “a bright-shiny-object sort of culture.” (See “Where Do We Go From Here?”) “We’ll talk about whatever the bright shiny object is, and if the bright shiny object changes next month, we’ll talk about that,” Schneier said. “Right now, security is important. But will anything change? Who knows? Ask me in six months.”

I’m asking you today. Are you trying to get funding for security now, before we turn another 180 degrees, or is this the beginning of a more secure digital world?

And will I ever set foot in the Capitol again?