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Concerning majority of Australian organisations vulnerable to data threats

By Shannon Williams
Tue 16 Aug 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A worrying amount of Australian organisations are vulnerable to data threats, according to new research from Vormetric and 451 Research.

The Australia Edition of the 2016 Vormetric Data Threat Report, which focuses on responses from IT security executives at large enterprises, found 94% of Australian organisations feel somewhat or more vulnerable to data threats, and had the highest rate worldwide of feeling ‘very or extremely’ vulnerable at 54%.

“A staggering 85% of Australian respondents claim to have been breached at some point in the past, well ahead of the global average of 61%,” says Garrett Bekker, senior analyst, information security, at 451 Research and the author of the 2016 Vormetric Data Threat Report.

“Another concern, planned increases in security spending to protect data, at 50%, are below any other region surveyed except for Japan at 32%.”

Compliance continues to act as a security driver – but compliance alone is not enough

Although there is a growing appreciation that the impact a data breach has on a brand’s reputation cannot be underestimated, Australian organisations continue to strongly associate compliance with security, despite data breaches continuing to affect organisations that have been certified as compliant.

“Compliance does not ensure security,” says Bekker. “As we learned from data theft incidents at companies that had reportedly met compliance mandates (such as KMART Australia, Vodafone, David Jones and Woolworth), being compliant doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be breached and have your sensitive data stolen,” he explains.

Bekker says Australian organisations don’t seem to fully appreciate this, with more than half (51%) rating compliance as a top reason for protecting data, and with compliance the topmost IT security spending priority (52%).

Organisations are spending ineffectively to prevent data breaches

With nearly one in three Australian organisations experiencing a breach in the last 12 months, Bekker says it is surprising that the increased spending rate to protect data is second to last in the world at 50%. 

“Even more surprising is where any increase will be spent,” he says. “Most are planning investments in tools like network (32%) and endpoint defences (29%) which have been proven to be largely ineffective against current threats to company data.”

Tina Stewart, vice president of marketing for Vormetric , adds “Enterprises and public sector organisations are being asked to better safeguard confidential and sensitive information.

“It’s therefore surprising that companies continue to use the same perimeter-based tools that consistently fail against modern, multi‐layered attacks,” she says.

“Technology that concentrates fundamentally on controlling access to data and protecting data is a far more affective approach.”

Key findings from the report include:

·         94 percent of Australian organisations feel somewhat or more vulnerable to data threats, and had the highest rate worldwide of feeling ‘very or extremely’ vulnerable at 54 percent.

·         85 percent had experienced a data breach in the past, well ahead of second-ranked Germany at 72 percent and the global average of 60 percent.  31 percent had been breached in the last year, also well ahead of the global average of 22 percent

·         When asked to pick the three most important reasons for securing sensitive data, the top answers were ‘compliance’, given by 51 percent of Australian organisations, ‘reputation and brand protection’, given by 39 percent and ‘this organization has experienced a data breach in the past’, given by 37 percent

·         46 percent of Australian respondents planning to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, with protecting IoT devices from privileged user access the top IoT concern at 35 percent

·         34 percent are plan to store sensitive data in the cloud, and 75 percent are worried about data breaches at their cloud provider

·         Planned increases in IT security spending by Australian organisations for the next 12 months are highest for ‘network defences’ 32 percent), ‘analysis and correlation tools’ (32 percent) and ‘endpoint and mobile defences’ (29 percent)

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