TIS THE SEASON FOR ANNUAL TECHNOLOGY surveys, so let's take a look at what CIOs and IT directors around the country are reporting. According to CDW-G, in its third annual "Higher Education IT Security Report Card" (available at www.cdwg.com/higheredsecurity):
Less than half of campus networks are safe from attack; 58 percent report at least one security breach in the last year.
Data loss or theft has increased 10 percent in the last year, up to 43 percent, including the loss or theft of staff and student personal information.
Increased attention to the convergence of IT and physical security solutions, but slow adoption of these tools.
A lack of staff resources cited as the biggest barrier to improving campus IT security.
Sound familiar? Those results are not much different from the previous year's survey results. Once again, security issues-and the inability to resolve them-top the list, followed closely by concerns over funding.
Security is a top IT issue, followed by funding problems.
That point is echoed in other surveys. For example, in the Educause "Current Issues Survey Report, 2007," (www.educause.edu/2007SurveyResources/13140), IT funding and security topped the list at institutions of all sizes. In addition, security and identity/access management (considered as different issues in the survey) are the first- and second-ranked issues expected to become even more significant next year.
The "2007 Campus Computing Survey," conducted by the Campus Computing Project (www.campuscomputing.net), reveals that although the percentage of campuses reporting hacks or attacks on campus networks continues to decline, IT security and crisis management present continuing challenges for college and university officials.
Even our own University Business "Technology Spending Survey '08" in this issue, conducted by Datamonitor, finds that although IT security is "top of mind" for institutions, it is not necessarily a big ticket item for them.
Do you see a pattern here? Why is it that, year after year, security tops the list of technology issues, yet IHEs don't seem to be adequately funding efforts to address it? Part of the answer is no doubt priorities. Campus budgets are increasingly under attack, and funding often goes to whatever problem is most pressing. An institution that has been fortunate enough to escape a security breach may be less likely to divert funds to an area where immediate results can't be seen. That's understandable, but some experts say it's just a matter of time before they, too, are attacked. Will next year's surveys reveal more of the same? Or, as with Katrina-related destruction and the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, will it take a major event before institutions finally become serious about securing their networks? When it comes to budgeting, administrators would do well to remember that prevention is always less expensive than cure.
And speaking of budgets (and bad segues), don't forget to budget time for the annual EduComm conference, which celebrates its fifth year when it heads back to Las Vegas from June 18 to 20.
With its focus now exclusively on higher education, EduComm will offer more hot-topic sessions than ever, particularly in the areas of presentation technologies, smart classroom planning and design, social-networking, and digital content. We'll also feature more practical "how to" sessions and hands-on workshops to make your trip a memorable one.
Visit our new EduComm website (www.educommconference.com) to get more information about attending the event, sponsorship opportunities, and schedules.
And if you are interested in presenting a session, either alone or as a team, you can submit a proposal either through the website or by contacting me at the address below.
Write to Tim Goral at firstname.lastname@example.org.