Perimeter Security Still Primary Breach Defense, Though Ineffective

Despite the increasing number of data breaches and more than 3.9 billion data records worldwide being lost or stolen since 2013, organizations continue to believe perimeter security technologies are enough to be effective against data breaches.

According to the third-annual Data Security Confidence Index released today by Gemalto, it’s a putting-all-the-eggs-in-one-basket problem. A full 61% of respondents said their perimeter security systems (firewall, IDPS, AV, content filtering, anomaly detection, etc.) were “very effective” at keeping unauthorized users out of their network. But that’s where the good news ends.

Another 69% said they are not confident their organization’s data would be secure if their perimeter security were breached. This is up from 66% in 2015 and 59% in 2014. Furthermore, 66% believe unauthorized users, once past those perimeter systems, can access their network, and nearly two in five (16%) said unauthorized users could access their entire network. Perhaps most tellingly, one in 10 (11%) would not trust their organization to store and manage their personal data.

“The days of breach prevention are over, yet many IT organizations continue to rely on perimeter security as the foundation of their security strategies,” said Jason Hart, vice president and CTO for Data Protection at Gemalto. “The new reality is that IT professionals need to shift their mindset from breach prevention to breach acceptance and focus more on securing the breach by protecting the data itself and the users accessing the data.”

According to the research findings, 78% of IT decision makers said they had adjusted their strategies as a result of high-profile data breaches, up from 71% in 2015 and up 53% in 2014. More budget (76%), time (63%), and resource (57%) is allocated to protecting customer data than the organization’s IP (24%, 37% and 43% respectively), in respondents’ organizations.

Most of them (86%) said they had increased spending on—guess what?—perimeter security. About 85% believe this is the right approach, and that their current investments are going to the right security technologies.

The reality of the situation does not bear this confidence out. About 64% of those surveyed said their organizations experienced a breach at some time over the past five years. More than a quarter (27%) said they experienced a breach in the past 12 months, with a similar number of IT decision makers (30%) reporting the same frequency in 2015. This suggests that organizations have not made significant improvements in reducing the number of data breaches, despite increased investments in perimeter security.

Those that have suffered a perimeter security breach experienced costs of more than $1.1 million, on average, so the stakes are high. Also, about a quarter (24%) of those surveyed believe that over 5% of their organization’s IT budget has been lost on detecting and fixing breaches in their perimeter security.

“While companies are confident in the amount of spending and where they are spending it, it’s clear the security protocols they are employing are not living up to expectations,” Hart said. “While protecting the perimeter is important, organizations need to come to the realization that they need a layered approach to security in the event the perimeter is breached. By employing tools such as end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication across the network and the cloud, they can protect the whole organization and, most importantly, the data.”

Photo © JL-Pfeifer

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