Most IT professionals feel their jobs would be on the line in the event of a security breach and at the same time feel ill-equipped to prevent such corporate or personal data loss, according to a survey released this week.

Nearly three-quarters of more than 250 IT professionals polled said they are concerned they would lose their jobs in the aftermath of a major security breach at their company. About two-thirds of the IT professionals working at Fortune 100,000 or midsize companies also said the responsibility associated with such breaches affects them personally.

And while 87% of IT organisations surveyed said they are confident in their ability to deal with viruses, spam, spyware and malware, just 35% felt they could deal with corporate or personal data loss.

"IT departments…are working endlessly to combat and minimise security issues. But even with the wide range of tools these organizations have invested in, there are still security gaps," said Diane Hagglund, of King Research, which conducted the survey on commission by systems management vendor Kace. "Few IT professionals, those from the mid-market sector in particular, feel equipped to deal with lost corporate or personal data."

About half of the polled IT professionals cited learning different applications associated with systems and security management as the greatest challenge in trying to secure all devices on distributed networks. Close to 100% use antivirus software, more than 80% have anti-spyware software and automated patch management, and about 70% put automated software updates in place. Yet fewer IT professionals reported having automated desktop configuration (50%) and end-node vulnerability (35%) scanning products in place.

"Most don't include end-node vulnerability scanning as part of their ongoing security strategies," Hagglund said.