With the worst of the global economic recession in the rear-view mirror, companies around the globe are turning to technological innovations to spur new growth. Cloud computing and mobile devices, among other technologies, have taken off during the past several years as companies embrace such trends in an effort to return to pre-recession levels.
But it's important for companies to understand that, with new innovations come new data security risks. According to the latest survey released by industry organization CompTIA, many are learning these lessons first hand.
"Our data suggests that there is no single overriding factor behind this sentiment," CompTIA research vice president Tim Herbert said. "Rather, it's a combination of elements that each chip away at information safety and security defenses in some way."
Overall, however, 83 percent of respondents to the organization's ninth annual Information Security Trends Study said they believe the threat level is rising – a trend that may have even begun last year.
Among the more than 500 IT professionals polled by CompTIA, 75 percent said their organization dealt with a security incident in 2011. On average, respondents said they suffered seven incidents throughout the year and classified about half of them as "serious."
Another 20 percent of respondents were certain these incidents resulted in the loss of sensitive data. About a third said it was likely data loss occurred.
As cited by 65 percent respondents, corporate financial data was the most common form of information affected by the security incidents. Just more than half said confidential employee records were breached.
Other research has also revealed that data security risks are on the rise for many organizations. In a poll from Unisphere Research, 81 percent of respondents said their companies have seen more threats during the past two years. Of those, 80 percent said the growing technical prowess and sophistication of outside hackers and malicious third parties are the most to blame.
CompTIA's research, on the other hand, revealed that other areas may also be to blame for the rising tide of security threats.
According to the organization's study, companies believe the influx in Internet-connected devices has presented companies with myriad data security vulnerabilities. Devices like smartphones and tablets, while they do provide greater access to information that employees can turn into productivity, have poked several holes in security programs.
Other areas presenting challenges for companies include big data, social technologies and cloud computing. All have contributed to the growing connectivity between end users and confidential data, the report stated.
"Billions of devices connect to the Internet daily, and with each touch point there's a potential for new security vulnerabilities," Herbert said. "With more data being produced and touched by more people, the potential for data loss or leakage grows accordingly."
To combat an increase in security incidents brought on by connected devices, experts agree that organizations should be shifting their approach to focus on information itself, rather than individual endpoints. These days, there are simply too many smartphones, tablets and other devices being added every day for a company to keep up.
Encryption is among the most common data-centric security measures, and a recent InformationWeek Reports study found that organizations are finally recognizing its benefits. More than 90 percent of respondents to the news provider's poll said they leverage at least some encryption, which is up from the 86 percent in 2009.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro