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Check Point and Ponemon Survey Reveals 75% Of UK Businesses Experienced Data Loss Last Year

June 2011 by Check Point® Software et le Ponemon Institute

Check Point and the Ponemon Institute have released findings from their survey, Understanding Security Complexity in 21st Century IT Environments, which show that 75% of UK organizations experienced data loss in the last year, compared with an average of 77% internationally.

Key findings from the survey show customer information was the most common type of data to be compromised in UK businesses at 52%, in addition to intellectual property (36%), employee information (36%) and consumer information (35%).

With the adoption of Web 2.0 applications and more mobile devices connecting to the network, organizations are challenged with enforcing better data security and IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) requirements.

According to the survey of over 450 IT security administrators in the UK, the primary cause for data loss was from lost or stolen equipment, cited by 35% of the UK respondents. Network attacks accounted for a quarter, followed by Web 2.0 and file-sharing applications (22%), and unencrypted USB or media storage devices (19%).

In addition, more than half (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), highlighting the need for user awareness to be implemented into data protection strategies, as people are often the first line of defense.

“We understand that data security and compliance are often at the top of the CISO’s list. However, if you look at the drivers for data loss, the majority of incidents are unintentional,” said Oded Gonda, vice president of network security products at Check Point Software Technologies. “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.”

“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,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “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.”

The Check Point DLP Software Blade is based on the company’s Software Blade Architecture. With a unique combination of technology and user awareness, Check Point helps businesses pre-emptively protect sensitive information from unintentional loss. With its unique UserCheck technology, Check Point DLP goes beyond technology to educate users on proper data handling policies and empowering them to remediate incidents in real-time.

The survey, Understanding Security Complexity in 21st Century IT Environments was independently conducted by the Ponemon Institute earlier in 2011, surveying over 450 IT administrators in the UK and over 2,400 worldwide, in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Japan. The survey sample represents organizations of all sizes and across 14 different industries, including financial, industrial, defense, retail, healthcare and education.

With Data Loss Prevention (DLP) as a top information security challenge, it’s important for businesses to understand the key issues driving data loss and establish a set of security best practices to prevent a breach, for example:

- Understand the Organization’s Data Security Needs – Have a clear view and record of the types of sensitive data that exist within the organization, as well as which types of data are subject to government or industry-related compliance standards.

- Classify Sensitive Data – Begin by creating a list of sensitive data types in the organization and designating the level of sensitivity. Consider establishing a set of document templates to classify data by Public, Restricted or Highly Confidential – creating more end user awareness about corporate policies and what constitutes sensitive information.

- Align Security Policies with Business Needs – An organization’s security strategy should protect the company’s information assets, without inhibiting the end user. Start by defining company policies in simple business terms that are aligned with individual employee, group or organization’s business needs. Identity awareness solutions can provide companies with more visibility of their users and IT environment, in order to better enforce corporate policy.

- Secure Data Throughout Its Lifecycle – Businesses should consider implementing data security solutions that secure their sensitive data in multiple forms – correlating users, data types and processes – and protect it throughout its lifecycle: data-at-rest, data-in-motion, and data-in-use.

- Eliminate the Compliance Burden – Evaluate government and industry-driven compliance mandates and how they impact an organization’s security and business flow. Consider implementing solutions with best practice policies customized to meet specific regulations, including HIPAA, PCI DSS and Sarbanes Oxley, for fast prevention on day one. Best practice policies also enable IT teams to focus on proactively protecting data beyond what’s required.

- Emphasize User Awareness and Engagement –Involve the user in the security decision process. Technology can help educate users about corporate policies and empower them to remediate security incidents in real-time. Combining technology and user awareness sensitizes employees to risky behavior through self-learning techniques.

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