Ovum: Cloud and big data means companies more fearful of insider data thefts

Only nine percent of businesses feel safe from the threat

There is a growing risk of data theft from insiders, according to analyst Ovum.

Ovum says poor "privileged user" controls are in place at UK organisations, and that almost half of organisations admit that insider threats are harder to detect.

Last month, data from staff payroll systems belonging to supermarket chain Morrisons was stolen and published online. At the time Morrisons suggested it was an insider attack.

Ovum questioned 500 IT decision-makers at mid- and large-sized organisations in the UK, France and Germany, and found that only nine percent of businesses felt safe from insider threats.

Nearly half of UK-based respondents (42 percent) said "privileged users" - system administrators, database administrators and network administrators for instance - posed the biggest risk to their organisation.

Another major 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, said Ovum.

"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 Ovum analyst Andrew Kellett.

"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 survey found that 47 percent of organisations now find it harder to detect insider threat incidents than in 2012.

Cloud implementations are also raising security issues, with the lack of visibility into security measures around cloud-hosted data representing a concern for 62 percent of businesses.

In addition, big data poses a risk, with over half (53 percent) of organisations being concerned over the security of big data reports that may contain sensitive data.

But organisations are taking steps to address insider threats, with 66 percent planning to increase IT security budgets as a direct response to the risks.

Ovum said 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.

The research was sponsored by data security firm Vormetric. Alan Kessler, CEO of Vormetric, said: "There is a growing awareness of insider threats but the rapid growth of sensitive information within organisations, and the use of new technologies such as the 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."

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