Ovum research reveals growing risk of data breach from insider threats

The study conducted on behalf of Vormetric highlights poor privileged user controls at UK organisations

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Organisations recognise encryption as the most effective technology in preventing insider threats

Enterprise data security specialists Vormetric 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 9% of businesses feel safe from insider threats, with nearly half of UK based respondents (42%) acknowledging that it is ‘privileged users’ (system administrators, database administrators, network administrators, etc.) that pose the biggest risk to their organisation. 

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.

> See also: The 2014 cyber security roadmap

'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.'

And, organisations are beginning to recognise that encryption is the most effective technology in preventing insider threats, with the largest proportion of organisations (38%) 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 Vormetric.

> See also: Over 1,190 internal security breaches occur in UK businesses every day

'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.'