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63% of Firms Say They Can't Stop Data Breaches

05 May 2014

When it comes to cybersecurity, IT departments are deficient, disconnected and in the dark most of the time, according to a new survey. In fact, 63% of them believe that they would be unable to prevent data theft in the event of an attack.

A Ponemon Institute survey, sponsored by Websense, found a significant deficit in enterprise security systems, a disconnect in how confidential data is valued and limited visibility into cybercriminal activity. Overall, the findings reveal a global consensus that security professionals need access to heightened threat intelligence and defenses.

About 59% of companies said that they do not have adequate intelligence or are unsure about attempted attacks and their impact. Further, 51% say their security solutions do not inform them about the root causes of an attack, or said that they are unsure about whether they do or not.

“This global security report shows that the cybersecurity industry still has more work to do when it comes to addressing cyber-attacks,” said John McCormack, Websense CEO, in a statement. “Security professionals need effective security measures and heightened security intelligence to keep organizations safe from advanced attacks and data loss.”

Less than half of the respondents (41%) believe they have a good understanding about the threat landscape facing their company. And it’s bad enough that most respondents (69%) believe cybersecurity threats sometimes fall through the cracks of their companies’ existing security systems, but, worse, 57% of respondents do not think their organization is protected from advanced cyber-attacks at all. In addition, the aforementioned 63% doubt they can stop the exfiltration of confidential information.

It all seems to be playing out: a hefty chunk of respondents – 44% of companies – said they had already experienced “one or more substantial cyber-attacks” in the past year.

The report also found that according to respondents, there is a gap between data breach perception and reality – specifically regarding the potential revenue loss to their business and the value of confidential data. A full 80% of respondents say their company’s leaders do not equate losing confidential data with a potential loss of revenue, even though the evidence is clear that data breaches have serious financial consequences for organizations. The average cost per lost or stolen record due to a data breach is $188, according to Ponemon – and the average cost of an organizational data breach is $5.4 million.

Echoing other research in the past year, about half (48%) say their board-level executives have a sub-par understanding of security issues. “However, we believe that cybersecurity awareness has most likely increased from that of a few years ago,” the report found.

Firms also have limited visibility into cybercriminal activity: only 37% of respondents could say with certainty that their organization lost sensitive or confidential information as a result of a cyber-attack, and 35% of those who had lost sensitive or confidential information did not know exactly what data had been stolen.

“While there are significant differences among countries for specific questions (such as availability of cyber-attack intelligence), the overall analysis indicates that a majority of security professionals do not feel adequately armed to defend their organizations from threats,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “This challenge is further compounded by a perception that company leaders do not believe that data breaches will lead to loss of revenue. Our research has shown this is simply untrue.”

This article is featured in:
Data Loss  •  Identity and Access Management  •  Industry News


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