In an effort to become more compliant with new data privacy protection and security regulations and avoid data breaches, organizations are quickly ramping up investments in data security, according to the recently released 2018 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey.

Recruitment and outsourcing firm Harvey Nash Inc. and professionals services firm KPMG LLP surveyed 3,958 CIOs and technology leaders worldwide between December 2017 and found that nearly one quarter (23 percent) more respondents than in 2017 said they’re prioritizing improvements in cyber security.

At the same time, managing operational risk and compliance has also become a significantly increased priority (up 12 percent). These two areas represent the fastest-growing IT priorities of company boards of directors.

IT leaders today face the challenging task of delivering rich, customer-centric data in an environment laden with risk, the report said. A majority (77 percent) of IT leaders say they are “most concerned” about the threat of organized cyber crime, up from 71 percent last year.

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Only one fifth (22 percent) said they are well prepared for a cyber attack. The drive toward protecting data has caused a huge demand for security and resilience skills, which experienced the biggest jump in skills shortages, increasing 25 percent year-on-year.

While organizations recognize an effective digital strategy is critical to successful data security, many report they still struggle, with 78 percent saying their digital strategy is only moderately effective, or worse. More than a third (35 percent) said they can’t hire and develop the people with digital skills that they need.

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