71% of UK organisations suffered a data breach in the last year

The survey took in 1000 senior IT and business managers from 15 different industries, including financial services, public sector, consumer products, retail and healthcare, in the UK, France, Germany, and Australia.

Researchers found that encryption was the technology with the largest increase in earmarked budget.

When asked why companies were looking to invest in this area, mitigation of data breaches was cited by 40% of those questioned (up from 30% last year), and complying with privacy or data security regulations and requirements, at 39% (up from 35% last year).

In the UK, Symantec says that the twin drivers of encryption technology adoption were mitigation of data breaches – cited by 40% of those questioned – and complying with privacy or data security regulations and requirements, at 39%. These figures increased from 30% and 35% in 2009, respectively.

Commenting on the figures, Jamie Cowper, Symantec's principal product marketing manager for encryption and DLP, told Infosecurity that the research shows the security landscape is changing, with hackers getting more clever with their attacks, and IT managers having to increase their security defences.

Although the Information Commissioner's Office has increased its fines, as witnessed by recent penalties against two organisations, the cost of a breach isn't really about the fine, he noted.

"It's about the publicity, as well as the cost of mopping up after the event", he said, adding that, whilst the fines from the ICO may seem lower than expected, it should be remembered that organisations can also be fined by other bodies as well, such as the Financial Services Association.

Cowper observed that mobile devices are being adopted by businesses on a much wider scale than before, and trying to manage this increased proliferation of devices has become something of a challenge for IT professionals.

Over at the Ponemon Institute, meanwhile, Dr. Larry Ponemon, the research firm's chairman, said that a string of high-profile cases involving the loss, theft and misuse of data by government agencies and businesses in the UK has driven the government to make improving cybersecurity – and particularly protection of personal information and national cyber infrastructure and sensitive data – a national priority.

Delving into the research reveals that the vast majority of UK organisations surveyed continue to adopt encryption: In this year's study, 53% had fully executed or just launched data encryption technology, whilst 47% were in the process of implementing data encryption programmes.

Data protection, meanwhile, is increasingly viewed as a mission critical element of an organisation's risk management efforts. An overwhelming number of UK respondents – 69% – stated that data protection was either a "very important" or "important" part of their risk management efforts. Ninteen percent, meanwhile, said it was "unimportant" and 12% were unsure.

According to Cowper, as companies increasingly rely on outsourcers, cloud-based technologies and mobile solutions, a major side effect is that more data is exposed to loss or theft.

"Encryption technologies enable organisations to take a more pro-active approach to data protection and avoid the heavy fines, brand damage, and operational disruption a data breach can cause", he said.

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