Reprisals from recently departed employees and a lack of adequate security budgets and resources are becoming major concerns for senior information technology professionals, according to a new survey by Ernst & Young.

The survey found that 75 percent of the nearly 1,900 senior executives polled in more than 60 countries are concerned about possible reprisal from employees who have left their organizations. Furthermore, 42 percent of respondents are already trying to understand the potential risks related to this issue, while 26 percent are already taking steps to mitigate those risks. 

“With the economy still in recession, employees that are made redundant may feel resentful towards their previous employer in a number of ways that may affect the smooth operation of an organization,” said Paul van Kessel, global leader of Ernst & Young’s information technology risk and assurance services practice, in a statement. “Increasingly, the employer’s IT system has become a common target, and data theft is also prevalent.”

Allocating an adequate budget to information security continues to be a challenge in 2009, with 50 percent of respondents ranking this as a high or significant challenge — a notable increase of 17 percentage points over 2008. Despite this level of concern, only 40 percent of respondents plan to increase their annual investment in information security as a percentage of total expenditures, while 52 percent plan to maintain the same level of spending.

The survey also reveals that regulatory compliance is a top priority for information security leaders. When asked how much their companies were spending on compliance efforts, 55 percent of respondents indicated that regulatory compliance costs account for moderate to significant increases in their overall information security costs. Only 5 percent of respondents plan to spend less over the next 12 months on regulatory compliance.

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