Thales News Release

Research From Ovum Reveals Growing Risk Of Data Breach From ‘Insider Threats’

April 4, 2014

Survey conducted on behalf of Thales highlights poor privileged user controls at UK organisations;
Organisations recognise encryption as the most effective technology in preventing insider threats;
47 percent find them more difficult to detect

LONDON – April 3, 2014 – Thales eSecurity, a leader in enterprise data security for physical, virtual and cloud environments, today announced the findings of its European ‘Insider Threat’ survey, conducted in 2014 with industry analyst firm Ovum. The research, which surveyed more than 500 IT decision-makers at mid and large size organisations in the UK, France and Germany, found that only nine percent of businesses feel safe from insider threats, with nearly half of UK based respondents (42 percent) acknowledging that it is ‘privileged users’ (system administrators, database administrators, network administrators, etc.) that pose the biggest risk to their organisation.

Click to Tweet: New @Thales survey with @OvumICT highlights poor ‘privileged user’ control by UK organisations:

Insider threats are no longer only traditional insiders with legitimate access rights who abuse their positions to steal data for personal gain. Privileged users who maintain systems and networks are now an additional concern, as their roles typically require access to all data accessible from systems to perform their work. A third insider threat concern is from the outside-in, with cybercriminals actively seeking to compromise insider accounts (focusing most heavily on privileged users) in order to infiltrate systems and steal data using their credentials.

“Almost half of European organisations believe that insider threats are now more difficult to detect, with senior IT managers being very worried about the things their own users can do with corporate data,” said Andrew Kellett, Principal Analyst at Ovum, the analyst firm which conducted the study. “This risk is compounded by the threat by cyber attacks that are targeting user accounts – something that is not going completely unrecognised as 30 percent of organisations cite Advanced Persistent Threats as a primary driver for ramping-up data breach defences.”

The key findings of the Ovum survey include:

  • Only nine percent of all organisations surveyed feel safe from insider threats and only six percent of UK organisations feel safe
  • 47 percent of organisations now find it harder to detect insider threat incidents than in 2012
  • Controlling access to data poses a broad threat for organisations. For some, non-technical employees with legitimate access to sensitive data and IT assets are the biggest risk (49 percent), while for others even executive management such as the CFO or CEO are the top risk (29 percent)
  • Cloud implementations are raising security issues, with the lack of visibility into security measures around cloud-hosted data representing a concern for 62 percent of businesses
  • Big data also poses a risk, with over half (53 percent) of organisations being concerned over the security of big data reports that may contain sensitive data
  • There is some good news: organisations are taking steps to address insider threats, with 66 percent planning to increase IT security budgets as a direct response to this risk

“Enterprises grow their use of cloud computing to take advantage of the business flexibility and financial advantages it brings,” said Daniele Catteddu, Managing Director EMEA for Cloud Security Alliance “The research shows that they feel that there are additional security risks from this growth, and details how cloud providers can enhance their offerings to better meet enterprise security needs for offsetting insider threats”

“Clearly, compliance requirements, privacy regulations and ongoing data breaches are having a strong effect on organisations,” said Stewart Room partner in Field Fisher Waterhouse's Technology and Outsourcing Group. “With 66% planning to expand IT security spending to offset insider threats, and the challenges they are seeing with protecting data within cloud, mobile and big data environments, enterprises are seeing that their security posture needs to be updated, and are taking steps to do so.”

And, organisations are beginning to recognise that encryption is the most effective technology in preventing insider threats, with the largest proportion of organisations (38 percent) citing it as the single most important security measure.

“Despite the growing frequency of insider threat related incidents in the news, the report shows that organisations are still at the early stages of managing this data loss vector,” said Alan Kessler, CEO for Thales. “Results show a growing awareness of insider threats, but the rapid growth of sensitive information within organisations, and the use of new technologies such as Cloud and Big Data, makes the prospect of securing data with a growing number of point solutions expensive, operationally complex and an impediment for rolling out new services. . With these new technologies, and with the growth of both outside-in threats such as APTs, traditional end point protections and network perimeter security simply aren’t effective. To practically defend themselves, organisations must take a data centric approach, implementing encryption and access controls to limit exposure, and monitoring data access to identify inappropriate user activity using a platform approach that scales with growing data security mandates and requirements without diverting an inordinate amount of IT resources.”

To find out more about the risks posed by insider threats and for additional findings from the research with Ovum, visit the Thales website:

About Thales eSecurity

Thales (@Thalesesecurity) is the industry leader in data security solutions that span physical, virtual and cloud environments. Thales helps over 1300 customers, including 17 of the Fortune 25 and many of the world’s most security conscious government organizations, to meet compliance requirements and protect what matters —their sensitive data —from both internal and external threats. The company’s scalable solution protects any file, any database and any application — within enterprise data center, cloud, big data environments — with a high performance, market-leading Vormetric Data Security Platform that incorporates application transparent encryption, access controls and security intelligence. Thales – because data can’t defend itself.

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