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Difficult economic times are often accompanied by a rise in all types of crimes. In 2008 alone, the total number of data breaches nearly doubled from that of the previous year - with 16 percent of the breaches caused by company insiders like former or current employees.

The threat of layoffs and reductions in the workforce put valuable company assets at greater risk. To stay ahead of potential data loss and misuse, there is a need for absolute transparency as to the handling of company critical assets such as unstructured data (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, multimedia and graphics files, among others).

It is then expected that stricter data regulations and corporate mandated transparency are likely to reshuffle an organization's spending priorities in order to increase operational efficiency during this economic downturn and -- more importantly -- prevent valuable company assets from mishandling. As a result, new types of technologies will be propelled to the top of an IT department's "must-have" list for 2009.

Below is a quick guide to IT security spending and technology deployment decisions in 2009:

1. Automation is essential. A tough economy usually means being asked to do more with less. While IT departments tend to traditionally run lean, hiring freezes are likely to extend into this department. This potentially means that IT operations directors will have to reevaluate labor-intensive yet essential processes and tasks, and look for ways and technologies that can automate these tasks. This type of IT spending is likely to get approval, especially if the return on investment (ROI) is fast and justified.

2. Efficiency over innovation. Efforts aimed at increasing employee productivity and getting more from existing investments will definitely have an audience. 2009 is a great time for security vendors to offer customers technology tutorials and increased guidance on getting more from the functions of their installed technologies -- especially if those functions allow a business to save time and spending costs on new technologies.

3. Expenses must map to business benefit. While some new technologies and projects may be approved by businesses, it's almost certain that all new IT expenses demonstrate clear ROI and business benefits. Business managers will need to see immediate short-term savings in both time and money before approving any expense, even those required for operating the business.


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