eSecurityPlanet Research Shows Gaps in Security Spending, Hiring

IT SECURITY ANALYSIS: Highly publicized data breaches, increasing vulnerabilities and new privacy regulations globally are pushing companies to increase spending on trusted IT security tools, staff, and hiring. But about a third of enterprises are falling behind in upgrading their systems.


As the U.S. economy continues to grow following the fiscal downturn of a decade ago—and, in parallel, as news of major security breaches continue to populate our news channels—we’re seeing steadily increasing investment from enterprises dead set on better protecting their intellectual property, which is also growing out of control.

In aggregate, this is good news for the data storage, IT software and hardware security industries, which have never had a harder time finding qualified technical professionals to fill myriad job openings numbering in seven figures.

All this growth is hardly a surprise. We’ve had previous such indications from respected analysts such as IDC, which in 2016 forecast that global cyber-security spending will reach a lofty $102 billion by 2020, and MarketsandMarkets, which last year predicted a worldwide market worth a whopping $248 billion by 2023.

Another blue-ribbon examiner of this super-important market,, a top online resource for IT security professionals and vendors, released its 2019 State of IT Security survey on Feb. 6. Yes, eSP also reports the security market growing precipitously, but it’s also seeing something else: an emerging gulf between companies ready to meet the growing perimeter and insider threats to their security and those that aren’t. Nearly one-third of companies are still inadequately prepared. 

New Global, Regional Data Privacy Regulations Are a Big Factor

Driven by fear of data breaches and new privacy regulations, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, this year’s survey finds that large enterprises with plenty of capital are spending aggressively on IT security measures. The majority of surveyed spenders (69 percent) were identified as mid-sized to very large organizations.  

IT spending is up across the board, with 54 percent of companies planning to increase their IT security spending this year and 30 percent aiming to increase their spending by 10 to 20 percent or more. The survey also finds that IT security staff hiring is up as well, with 57 percent of respondents saying their organizations are planning to hire security staff in the next 12 months.  

Despite all this increased spending and attention being focused on enhancing IT and data storage security, the survey also shows that many companies still find themselves at high risk, with about 30 percent of companies identified as being largely unprepared for cybersecurity attacks.  

"Because data breaches occur on such a frequent basis, on the surface there seems to be a general disillusionment about the state of cybersecurity," Sean Michael Kerner, Senior Security Editor for Foster City, Calif.-based eSecurityPlanet and eWEEK, said. "Yes, there are companies out there that are not where they need to be in terms of being secure. However, the 2019 State of IT Security survey paints an optimistic picture. Many of the findings point to the fact that more and more organizations are proactive about their cybersecurity challenges, instead of waiting for the next breach to occur."

The survey report also provides other key insights, including:

  • Spending priorities: Network access control (NAC), web gateways and data loss prevention (DLP) are top IT security spending priorities, revealing a need for security teams to balance external and internal threats.
  • Security tools that inspire the most and least amount of trust: Network access controls topped the list of security technologies that users have the most confidence in, followed by DNS filtering, anti-virus technology, and web gateways. IT security pros have the least amount of confidence in phishing simulation products, followed by breach and attack simulation.
  • The demand for emerging technologies: The survey shows mixed results on demand, with deception technology being the most likely to be adopted over the next twelve months. The demand for other emerging technologies, such as security orchestration and automation and response (SOAR) is low.
  • Cybersecurity preparedness: The survey looks at how readiness compares to company size and guidance on how to be more prepared for threats.

Spending Priorities Are Evolving

The survey also had much to say about IT security spending priorities.

Network access control (NAC), web gateways and data loss prevention (DLP) are the top IT security spending priorities, revealing a need for security teams to balance external and internal threats.

While NAC and web gateways can help keep out the bad guys, data loss prevention can prevent unauthorized parties from making off with sensitive data, both employees and hackers who have successfully penetrated network defenses. It's a particularly key technology for data privacy regulations like GDPR.

Among survey respondents, a very large city government plans web gateway and network access control purchases. A large federal agency had a wish list of a half-dozen security technologies. A leading business services firm plans DLP, SIEM and DDoS protection purchases. A large financial services firm is trying out new breach and attack simulation technology.

An IT services company had the longest shopping list: web gateways, network access control, DLP, deception technology, UEBA, phishing simulation and patch management.

Network access control and web gateways are already some of the most widely deployed security technologies among survey respondents, with about 54 percent of respondents already using NAC and 41 percent using web gateways. With around 20 percent of respondents planning to purchase those technologies in the next 12 months, those adoption rates are set to rise significantly.

Data loss prevention is also on track for significant growth. About 35 percent of those surveyed have already adopted DLP tools, and 21 percent plan to acquire them within the next year.

Which Security Tools Inspire Confidence?

Network access control also topped the list of security technologies that users have the most confidence in, with 25.8 percent of respondents saying they trust NAC most of all. DNS filtering came in second at 24.2 percent, anti-virus technology at 20.8 percent, and web gateways at 20 percent.

Which technologies do IT security pros have the least amount of confidence in? Phishing simulation products topped that list, with 24.2 percent of respondents expressing dissatisfaction, followed by breach and attack simulation (BAS) technology at 20 percent, perhaps because of some overlap between the two. The success of phishing simulation training depends entirely on end user compliance, making it one of the biggest security nightmares for organizations, and also one of the hardest to fix.

Not surprisingly, phishing topped the list of areas where employees need training, at 31.7 percent, followed by data loss prevention at 27.5 percent – two areas characterized by employee error or malicious intent.

Emerging Technologies Face Mixed Demand

The survey looked at demand for newer security technologies and found mixed results.

Deception technology fared best among newer technologies, with 13 percent planning to adopt it in the next 12 months, followed by 11 percent planning to purchase breach and attack simulation technologies. Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) didn't fare as well, with planned adoption at 4 percent on top of 21 percent already using the technology.

Drawing broad conclusions from the survey, roughly two-thirds of organizations appear well prepared to meet security threats, while a third should reassess their controls.

About 64 percent of respondents said they conduct penetration testing at least annually, and 60 percent conduct threat hunting exercises at the same rate.

Respondents said they have the most the confidence in their regulatory compliance preparedness, with 75 percent expressing some level of comfort with their compliance controls.

Database security, advanced persistent threats (APTs), DDoS attacks, insider threats and ransomware are the biggest areas of concern, with a range of 27 to 38 percent of respondents expressing doubts about their preparedness for those threats.

One interesting note about enterprise security buying habits: A third of survey respondents said they conduct competitive "bakeoffs" between security products at least annually, but just under 7 percent have switched products as a result of those comparative evaluations.

Read the Whole Report

To view the report and methodology used in’s 2019 State of IT Security Survey, go here. is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (Nasdaq: QNST), a pioneer in delivering online marketplace solutions to match searchers with brands in digital media. QuinStreet also is the publisher of

Paul Shread, Editor of, contributed to this report.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...