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The Criminal Element

In his keynote speech at Symantec's Vision conference in San Francisco earlier this week, Symantec CEO John Thompson said the security challenge businesses face today is that hackers are effectively professional criminals with the very focused goal of making a profit at the expense of the companies they are attacking. As such, these hackers bring sophisticated skill sets and often a wealth of experience that puts some businesses at a disadvantage and all companies on the defensive.Thompson outlined his company's strategy in the speech which, in short, involves layers of security to mitigate threats that come from a range of sources. Symantec's particular technology focus will be on helping enterprises defend themselves against threats that come from the Internet including e-mail, instant messaging, and a number of online collaborative applications.

I've heard his message echoed by a number of security researchers at competing companies. And while there is no doubt in my mind that IT administrators understand the severity of threats and their potential for devastating damage, I have to wonder if the business side of the house really understands. Consider the recent Dark Reading security study which found that the salaries of IT security pros who are so in-demand are the same or even a little lower than the salaries of their software or network engineer colleagues. This doesn't jibe with the high priority businesses are allegedly giving security as a percentage of their IT budgets.