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Global Study Says 63% of Organizations Believe They Can't Stop Data Theft

A new Ponemon Institute survey suggests key cybersecurity deficits, disconnects and low attack visibility in many enterprises.

April 30, 2014
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A new Ponemon Institute survey suggests key cybersecurity deficits, disconnects and low attack visibility in many enterprises.

The survey of nearly 5,000 global IT security professionals reveals a deficit in enterprise security systems, a disconnect in how confidential data is valued and limited visibility into cybercriminal activity. The report gives new insight into why cybercriminals have a foothold in the broader enterprise.

The report surveyed IT security practitioners with an average of 10 years' experience in the field from 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India>, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. Findings reveal a global consensus that security professionals need access to heightened threat intelligence and defenses.

Survey results include:

Deficient in Security Solution Effectiveness

  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents do not think their organization is protected from advanced cyber attacks and 63 percent doubt they can stop the exfiltration of confidential information.

  • Most respondents (69 percent) believe cybersecurity threats sometimes fall through the cracks of their companies' existing security systems.

  • Forty-four percent of companies represented in this research experienced one or more substantial cyber attacks in the past year.

  • Fifty-nine percent of companies do not have adequate intelligence or are unsure about attempted attacks and their impact. Further, 51 percent say their security solutions do not inform them about the root causes of an attack or they are unsure.

Disconnect on the Perceived Value of Confidential Data

  • According to respondents, there is a gap between data breach perception and reality specifically regarding the potential revenue loss to their business. Eighty percent of respondents say their company's leaders do not equate losing confidential data with a potential loss of revenue.

  • This is in contrast to recent Ponemon Institute research, which indicates that data breaches have serious financial consequences for organizations. The average cost per lost or stolen record due to a data breach is $188 and the average cost of an organizational data breach is $5.4 million.

  • Forty-eight percent say their board-level executives have a sub-par understanding of security issues. However, Websense believes that cybersecurity awareness has most likely increased from that of a few years ago.

Limited Visibility Into Cybercriminal Activity

  • Less than half of the respondents (41 percent) believe they have a good understanding about the threat landscape facing their company.

  • Only 37 percent of respondents could say with certainty that their organization lost sensitive or confidential information as a result of a cyber attack.

  • Thirty-five percent 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 Dr. 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."

In addition to the survey results, the report also includes conclusions drawn from the data and recommendations for addressing the exposed cracks in current cybersecurity measures. A full copy of the report, including survey methodology, consolidated results and individual response rates by country is available at www.websense.com/ponemon2014.

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