Opening up databases to the Internet has become both a top priority and a growing security concern at corporate data shops in North America, a new survey of database developers finds.

The Evans Data Corp. survey found that more than one out of 10 corporate databases connected to the Internet had a breach of security in 2001. In most cases, these breaches consist of malicious viruses or unauthorized hackers. At the same time, more corporate information is being fed into the Internet pipeline. Well over two-thirds of the respondents said their most important development task over the coming year is the ability to provide dynamic Web access to their databases. More than 68 percent are concentrating on the ability of their databases to refresh their companies' Web sites.

The in-depth interviews with more than 750 database developers conducted in late December found higher rates of security breaches in several key industries. More than one in four developers in banking/financial services reported incidences of unauthorized access and data corruption to their information. Eighteen percent in the medical/healthcare and telecommunications industries reported breaches. While large majorities of the developers have beefed up the security of their network infrastructures, the survey found that a lesser number take advantage of built-in database security features.

"Many people are focused on the security of their networks and operating systems. However, little attention is given to actual database security," says Joe McKendrick, Evans Data analyst. "The results of this survey illustrate the importance of security in the database as well as the surrounding network."

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Windows 2000 has clearly gained ground as the choice development platform. Currently, more than two- fifths (42 percent) of database development managers use Windows 2000-based workstations to build applications, up from 21 percent a year ago
  • Many companies are embracing new tools that leverage data to enhance business intelligence. More than half the companies surveyed, 56 percent, operate or plan to implement enterprise portals with built-in analytic capabilities. About one-third (30 percent) either already have an operational knowledge management portal or will be implementing one this year
  • There is considerable momentum toward development of mobile database applications. The survey finds more than 44 percent are developing database applications that support mobile or wireless devices, up from 38 percent in last summer's survey.

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