Despite high levels of concern about the security of IP networks, companies are planning to press ahead and roll out the technology regardless, according to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Over two thirds of the 236 global chief executives and chief information officers questioned said that network security is a major concern when it comes to switching to a totally IP network. But the same proportion were planning to deploy the technology anyway.

Security concerns rank more highly than worries over the cost of network installations, and wireless network protection is seen as a key risk area.

Viruses and worms are still seen as the main problems, but the respondents see these and most other threats decreasing over the next two years. However, they expect targeted attacks from internal staff, either espionage or sabotage, to rise.

"There is an increasing level of confidence among senior management that companies can handle virus attacks," said Denis McCauley, director of global technology research at the EIU.

"Meanwhile the growth of spending on network security is levelling off after several years of emergency catch-up spending. This seems to suggest maintenance at a particular security level that companies are comfortable with."

McCauley added that the proportion of IT budgets spent on dealing with security issues is holding steady.

Another area of major concern identified by the respondents is the growing focus of hackers on financial gain rather than enhancing their reputation. Finance houses are a particular target at this early stage, but most companies are worried about the threat to their networks.

"We are definitely seeing more attacks being launched against financial institutions," said Kees Voss, global offering manager at AT&T.

"Phishing and distributed denial of service attacks against finance houses for monetary gain are becoming more common. It is more and more professional, and it is way too advanced for your average script kiddies."

In terms of their own security performance almost half of those questioned admitted to opening an attachment from an unknown email address, and over a quarter were still writing down their passwords.

These were slightly lower figures than last year's, suggesting greater security awareness among management.
CIOs nervous about IP network security -