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Ponemon survey shows 75% of firms lost data in 2010

Whilst the Information Commissioner's Office would have good reason to start looking at the figures in more depth, the report - Understanding Security Complexity in 21st Century IT Environments - notes that the problem in the UK is slightly less worse than it is internationally, where the percentage of affected firms stands at 77%.

Key findings from the survey - which took in responses from more than 450 IT admins in the UK and 2,500 worldwide - showed that, after customer information at 52%, intellectual property accounted for 36%, followed by employee information (36%) and consumer information (35%).

The primary cause for this sea of data losses (in the UK) was from lost or stolen equipment (35%). Network attacks accounted for a quarter, followed by Web 2.0 and file-sharing applications (22%), and unencrypted USB or media storage devices (19%).

Interestingly, some 53% of UK respondents surveyed believe their employees have little or no awareness about data security, compliance and policies, with only 19% reporting high awareness of these issues - the third lowest of the five countries surveyed (UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia).

This level, says Check Point, highlights the need for user awareness to be implemented into data protection strategies, as people are often the first line of defence.

According to Oded Gonda, vice president of network security products with Check Point, whilst data security and compliance are often at the top of a CISO's list, it is clear the majority of data loss incidents are unintentional.

"In order to move data loss from detection to prevention, businesses should consider integrating more user awareness and establish the appropriate processes to gain more visibility and control of information assets", he said.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Larry Ponemon, the chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said that, with hundreds of data loss incidents every year - both reported and unreported - it's no surprise the issues with governance, risk and compliance are being magnified.

"Data security in a modern day world means more than deploying a set of technologies to overcome these challenges. In fact, the lack of employee awareness is a primary cause in data loss incidents and is encouraging more businesses to educate their users about corporate policies in place", he explained.

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