Tag Archives: Data Breach

Bored and distracted employees “could be biggest data security risk” warns Centrify

Employees who become distracted at work are more likely to be the cause of human error and a potential security risk. That’s according to a ‘snapshot’ poll conducted by Centrify.

While more than a third (35%) of survey respondents cite distraction and boredom as the main cause of human error, other causes include heavy workloads (19%), excessive policies and compliance regulations (5%), social media (5%) and password sharing (4%). Poor management is also highlighted by 11% of security professionals, while 8% believe human error is caused by not recognising data security responsibilities at work.

According to the survey, which examines how human error might lead to data security risks within organisations, over half (57%) of respondents believe businesses will eventually trust technology enough to replace employees as a way of avoiding human error in the workplace.

CentrifyDataSecurity

Despite the potential risks of human error at work, however, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents feel that it’s the responsibility of the employee, rather than technology, to ensure that the host company avoids a potential data breach.

“It’s interesting that the majority of security professionals we surveyed are confident that businesses will trust technology enough to replace people so that fewer mistakes are made at work, yet on the other hand firmly put the responsibility for data security in the hands of employees rather than technology,” commented Andy Heather, vice-president and managing director at Centrify EMEA.

“It seems that we as employees are both responsible and responsible: responsible for making mistakes and responsible for avoiding a potential data breach. It shows just how aware we need to be at work about what we do and how we behave when it comes to our work practices in general and our security practices in particular.”

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“UK businesses could spend £1.2 million recovering from a cyber security breach” states new research from NTT Com Security

Most business decision-makers in the UK admit that their organisation will suffer from a cyber security breach at some point. They also anticipate that recovering from a data breach would cost upwards of £1.2 million on average for their organisation. That’s according to the Risk:Value report issued by information security and risk management company NTT Com Security, which surveyed business decision-makers in the UK as well as the US, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

While nearly half (48%) of UK business decision-makers say that information security is ‘vital’ to their organisation, and just half agree it’s ‘good practice’, a fifth admit that poor information security is the ‘single greatest risk’ to the business ahead of ‘decreasing profits’ (12%) and ‘competitors taking market share’ (11%) and on a par with ‘lack of employee skills’ (21%).

Well over half (57%) agree that their organisation will suffer a data breach at some point, while a third disagree. One-in-ten state that they simply don’t know if this will be the case.

Respondents estimate that a breach would cost them an average of £1.2 million, even before ‘hidden costs’ like reputational damage and brand erosion are taken into consideration. Again, on average it would take around two months to recover from a breach. Respondents to the comprehensive survey also anticipate a 13% drop in revenue, on average, following a breach episode.

Starting to hit home

The survey shows that recent high-profile data breaches are starting to hit home. A similar report published by NTT Com Security in 2014 revealed that 10% of an organisation’s IT budget was spent on information security compared to 11% this year. However, in the latest report, around a quarter (23%) of UK businesses reveal that more is spent on Human Resources than information security.

In terms of remediation costs following a security breach, nearly a fifth (18%) of a company’s costs would be spent on legal fees, 18% on fines or compliance costs, 17% on compensation to customers and 11% set aside for third party remediation resources. Other anticipated costs include PR and communications (14%) and compensation paid to both suppliers (12%) and employees (11%).

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According to the report, the majority of respondents in the UK admit they would suffer both externally and internally if data was stolen, including loss of customer confidence (66%) and damage to reputation (57%) as well as suffering direct financial loss (41%). Over a third of decision-makers (34%) expect to resign (or expect another senior colleague to do so) as a result of a breach.

Stuart Reed, senior director for global product marketing at NTT Com Security, commented: “Attitudes towards the real impact of security breaches have really started to shift. That’s no surprise given the year we have just had. We’ve seen several major brands reeling from the effects of serious data breaches, and struggling to manage the potential damage, not only to their customers’ data, but also to their own reputation. While the majority of people we spoke to expect to suffer a cyber security breach at some point, most fully expect to pay for it as well, whether that’s in terms of third party and other remediation costs, customer confidence, lost business or even, possibly, their jobs.”

Who’s responsibility is it anyway?

*41% of UK organisations have a disaster recovery plan in place, with 40% having a formal security policy in place. In both cases, almost half are in the process of implementing or designing one

*When it comes to responsibility for managing the company’s recovery plan, 15% say the CEO now has responsibility, although this still largely falls to the Chief Risk Officer (CRO), the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or the Chief Security Officer (CSO)

*While 77% agree it’s ‘vital’ their business is insured for security breaches, only 26% have dedicated cyber security insurance. However, 38% of those questioned are in the process of obtaining a policy

*One-in-five respondents in the UK say they don’t know if their organisation has any type of insurance in place to cover for the financial impact of data loss or an information security breach

“It’s encouraging to see that almost all UK businesses now have a disaster recovery and formal information security policy in place, or are at least planning to implement one soon,” added Reed.

“Clear, concise internal processes and policies for employees and contractors have so often been overlooked, and this is what can lead to complacency and poor security hygiene. When we talk to clients, we make it absolutely clear that educating staff about security should be a top priority, supported all the while by clear and simple procedures and backed up by a solid incident response plan.” 

*The Risk:Value Executive Summary report can be downloaded here

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“Organisations must act now to avoid hackers’ oldest trick in the book” urges ICO

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning organisations that they must make sure their websites are protected against one of the most common forms of online attack – SQL injection.

The warning comes after the hotel booking website, Worldview Limited, was fined £7,500 following a serious data breach where a vulnerability on the company’s site allowed attackers to access the full payment card details of 3,814 customers.

The data was accessed after the attacker exploited a flaw on a page of the Worldview website to access the company’s customer database. Although customers’ payment details had been encrypted, the means to decrypt the information – known as the decryption key – were stored with the data. This oversight allowed the attackers to access the customers’ full card details, including the three digit security code needed to authorise payment.

Christopher Graham: the Information Commissioner

Christopher Graham: the Information Commissioner

The weakness had existed on the website since May 2010 and was only uncovered during a routine update on 28 June 2013. The attackers had access to the information for ten days. The company has now corrected the flaw and invested in improving its IT security systems.

Worldview Limited would have received a £75,000 penalty but the ICO was required to consider the impact any penalty would have on the company’s financial situation.

Attacks are preventable

Simon Rice, the ICO’s Group Manager for Technology, said: “It may come as a surprise to many in the IT security industry that this type of attack is still allowed to occur. SQL injection attacks are preventable but organisations need to spend the necessary time and effort to make sure their website isn’t vulnerable. Worldview Limited failed to do this, allowing the card details of over 3,000 customers to be compromised.”

Rice added: “Organisations must act now to avoid one of the oldest hackers’ tricks in the book. If you don’t have the expertise in-house then find someone who does, otherwise you may be the next organisation on the end of an ICO fine and the reputational damage that results from a serious data breach.”

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“Remote working places business data at risk” reveals Imation Corporation Survey

According to new research initiated by global data storage and information security company Imation Corporation, poor security and impugned responsibility are placing business data at risk for those working remotely. Staff are taking confidential information away from the office, often without the knowledge of their employer, and losing unsecured and unencrypted business data in places such as pubs, on trains and in hotels.

According to the survey of 1,000 office workers* from the UK and Germany, nearly two-in-five of respondents (or someone they know personally) have lost or had a device stolen in a public place. Three quarters of these devices – among them laptops, mobile phones and USB sticks – contained work-related data. This included confidential e-mails (37%), confidential files (34%) and customer data (21%).

Around one-in-ten interviewees had lost financial data or access details such as login and password information, potentially exposing even more confidential information to the risk of a data breach.

What makes these findings even more concerning is that a large proportion of data removed from the workplace isn’t adequately secured. As many as three quarters of respondents said they had taken digital files with them outside of work, yet many do not use standard security measures such as encryption, password protection or remote wiping to protect that data from unauthorised access.

One-in-four employees interviewed for the Imation Corporation’s survey admitted breaking security policies to work remotely while the majority were not concerned about losing confidential business data

One-in-four employees interviewed for the Imation Corporation’s survey admitted breaking security policies to work remotely while the majority were not concerned about losing confidential business data

Nearly half (44%) of respondents said that data is never encrypted when taken out of the office. Three out of every ten respondents admitted they don’t protect their data with passwords, while nearly one-in-ten workers who take digital files outside of the office do not secure them at all.

Office workers, it seems, are not losing any sleep over losing confidential business data when they take work home, with only one-in-16 worrying about this massively important issue.

Lack of understanding around corporate data security

“Companies may not be aware of the amount of data that’s leaving offices unsecured,” said Nick Banks, vice-president (EMEA and APAC) for Imation Corporation’s IronKey solutions. “In addition, half of respondents said that, at least some of the time, nobody would notice if they were to take data away from the office and lose it. It’s obvious that poor security and lack of understanding of what happens to corporate data are placing organisations at risk of a data breach.”

Even though eight-in-ten of the employees interviewed read or write work e-mails on the move, and around seven-in-ten work on electronic documents away from the office, businesses are failing to provide their employees with secure tools for remote working and not putting the right security policies in place.

Fewer than six out of every ten respondents said their organisation had a remote working policy in place. Of those employees working for companies that do have a policy, more than a quarter of interviewees admitted they’d broken that policy in order to work remotely. Of those staff questioned, 8% had knowingly broken the policy and a further 18% say they’d unknowingly broken it.

Equally, of those individuals who do secure data that they take outside of the office, just over half said that their employer or a third party supplier provides the remote working security measures. One-in-five respondents reported that just they themselves provide the security measures.

“These figures emphasise the urgent need for businesses to ensure that their employees have the necessary systems in place to work flexibly and securely without further hindering productivity,” asserted Banks. “The reality is that people are working in cafes, on aeroplanes, in their GP’s waiting room and even while they take their children to the park. Organisations are tasked with a monumental challenge of providing secure access to corporate networks and data. Data protection is now a huge concern for employers who are battling to manage security and privacy for employees on the move.”

Nearly half (44%) of survey respondents said that data is never encrypted when taken out of the office

Nearly half (44%) of survey respondents said that data is never encrypted when taken out of the office

Key highlights of the research

Other research highlights are as follows:
• As many as 41% of interviewees suggested that they either do not have the right tools available to work remotely or that their solutions for doing so could be improved
• Three-in-five respondents would tell their boss if they lost a storage device with company data on it. However, nearly one-in-ten would do nothing. Less than one third of survey respondents said they have policies that dictate who should be notified depending upon the type and sensitivity of the data lost
• Almost a quarter of respondents have looked over the shoulder of someone working on a laptop/tablet in a public place or noticed someone looking over their shoulder while 6% would let someone else use their work laptop, tablet or smart phone outside of the office
• Around half (48%) of respondents that take digital files with them outside of the office do not fully separate their work and personal data, in turn placing their personal data at risk of being wiped when business data is compromised
• Only 70% of respondents report that they protect their data with passwords and only 36% encrypt their data. A small proportion of respondents are using biometric technology (14%) or remote wiping (7%) to secure their data
• Public areas such as pubs, cafes and restaurants (22%) and public transport (29%) are some of the most common locations for respondents to read or write work e-mails when outside of their home

Nick Banks: vice-president (EMEA and APAC) for Imation Corporation’s IronKey solutions

Nick Banks: vice-president (EMEA and APAC) for Imation Corporation’s IronKey solutions

*The research consisted of 1,000 online interviews carried out this summer and involving office workers in businesses of at least 250 employees and covering a range of industry sectors. 500 respondents emanate from the UK and 500 respondents work in Germany. 80% of respondents were required to work remotely for at least part of their working week. Interviews were conducted online using a rigorous multi-level screening process to ensure that only suitable candidates were given the opportunity to participate

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