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Analysis: the real cost of data security

Secure communications 'breakthrough'

When Amplitude first began conducting the survey in 2004, only 43 percent of respondents said they had moved to SSH with the proportion of users growing steadily over the years to reach 66 percent in 2007. Over the same time period, use of Telnet remained somewhat steady until 2006, when usage declined substantially from 54 percent in 2006 to only 38 percent in 2007.

SSH is considered superior to Telnet systems by many experts based on its increased level of data encryption.

In addition, some 50 percent of those individuals who said they have moved to SSH in 2007 said that it was likely that their companies would upgrade or replace their technologies sometime in the next year, compared to only 36 percent in 2006.

"We see this as a significant improvement as for many years, the use of SSH has increased, but we still saw so many people using Telnet, and we were wondering when this would shift," said Amplitude's Birnkrant. "People are finally waking up to all the vulnerabilities that affect Telnet, and this will greatly improve security for exchanging sensitive data over remote connections."

In another interesting twist, Amplitude found that many of the organizations it surveyed appear to be considering upgrades to Microsoft's Windows Vista OS in the name of benefiting from the product's security features.

Many security industry watchers have questioned whether the addition of onboard antimalware, encryption and UAC (user account control) tools would encourage business customers to move to Vista.

According to the report, of the 217 respondents who said they are either testing or installing Vista during 2007, some 53 percent listed security enhancements as a primary driver of those projects with an additional 14 percent citing UAC - meant to limit the administrative permissions of individual machines to ward off malware attacks - as a major incentive.

Some 22 percent of respondents told Amplitude they were upgrading to Vista to take advantage of overall "improved functionality" in the desktop software.

"Clearly, it is the security enhancements that many customers are looking at when considering a move to Vista," Birnkrant said. "There has been a good deal of debate but obviously some organizations are seeing security as a strong selling point for the product."

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