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a safe place to workEMC has recently released its Global Data Protection Index 2016 where it claims only 2% of the world would be considered ‘leaders’ in protecting their own assets, reports Telecoms.com.

Data has dominated the headlines in recent months as breaches have made customers question how well enterprise organizations can manage and protect data. Combined with transatlantic disagreements in the form of Safe Habour and law agencies access to personal data, the ability to remain secure and credible is now more of a priority for decision makers.

“Our customers are facing a rapidly evolving data protection landscape on a number of fronts, whether it’s to protect modern cloud computing environments or to shield against devastating cyber-attacks,” said David Goulden, CEO of EMC Information Infrastructure. “Our research shows that many businesses are unaware of the potential impact and are failing to plan for them, which is a threat in itself.”

EMC’s report outlined a number of challenges and statistics which claimed the majority of the industry are not in a place they should be with regard to data protection. While only 2% of the industry would be considered leaders in the data protection category, 52% are still evaluating the options available to them. Overall, 13% more businesses suffered data loss in the last twelve months, compared to the same period prior to that.

But what are the over-arching lessons we learned from the report?

Vendors: Less is more

A fair assumption for most people would be the more protection you take on, the more protected you are. This just seems logical. However, the study shows the more vendors you count in your stable, the more data you will leak.

The average data loss instance costs a company 2.36TB of data, which would be considered substantial, however it could be worse. The study showed organizations who used one vendor lost on average 0.83TB per incident, two vendors 2.04TB and three vendors 2.58TB. For those who used four or more vendors, an average of 5.47TB of data was lost per incident.

Common sense would dictate the more layers of security you have, the more secure you will be, however this is only the case if the systems are compatible with each other. It should be highlighted those who lost the larger data sets are likely to be the larger companies, with more data to lose, though the study does seem to suggest there needs to be a more co-ordinated approach to data protection.

And they are expensive…

Using same concept as before, the average cost of lost data was $900,000. For those who have one vendor, the cost was $636,361, for those with two, 789,193 and for those with three vendors the cost was just above the average at 911,030. When companies bring in four or more vendors, the average cost of data loss rises to 1.767 million.

China and Mexico are the best

While it may be surprising, considering many of the latest breakthroughs in the data world have come from Silicon Valley or Israel, China and Mexico are the two countries which would be considered furthest ahead of the trend for data protection.

EMC graded each country on how effective they are were implementing the right technologies and culture to prevent data loss within the organizations themselves. 17 countries featured ahead of the curve including usual suspects of the UK (13.5% ahead of the curve), US (8%), Japan (1%) and South Korea (9%), however China and Mexico led the charge being 20% and 17% respectively ahead.

While it may not be considered that unusual for China to have a strong handle on data within its own boarders, Mexico is a little more surprising (at least to us at Telecoms.com). The country itself has gone through somewhat of a technology revolution in recent years, growing in the last 20 years from a country where only 10% of people had mobile through to 68% this year, 70% of which are smartphones. Mexico is now the 11th largest economy in terms of purchasing power, with the millennials being the largest demographic. With the population becoming more affluent, and no longer constrained by the faults of pre-internet world, the trend should continue. Keep up the good work Mexico.

Human error is still a talking point

When looking at the causes of data loss, the results were widespread, though the causes which cannot be controlled were at the top of the list. Hardware failure, power loss and software failure accounted for 45%, 35% and 34% respectively.

That said the industry does now appear to be taking responsibility for the data itself. The study showed only 10% of the incidents of data loss was blamed on the vendor. A couple of weeks ago we spoke to Intel CTO Raj Samani who highlighted to us the attitude towards security (not just data protection) needs to shift, as there are no means to outsource risk. Minimizing risk is achievable, but irrelevant of what agreements are undertaken with vendors, the risk still remains with you. As fewer people are blaming the vendors, it would appear this responsibility is being realized.

Human error is another area which still remains high on the agenda, as the study showed it accounts for 20% of all instances of data loss. While some of these instances can be blamed on leaving a laptop in the pub or losing a phone on the train, there are examples where simple mistakes in the workplace are to blame. These will not be removed, as numerous day-to-day decisions are based off the back of intuition and gut-feel, and a necessity for certain aspects of the business.

An area which could be seen as a potential danger would be that of artificial intelligence. As AI advances as a concept, the more like humans they will become, and thus more capable of making decisions based in intuition. If this is to be taken as the ambition, surely an intuitive decision making machine would offer a security defect in the same way a human would. Admittedly the risk would be substantially smaller, but on the contrary, the machine would be making X times many more decision than the human.

All-in-all the report raises more questions than provides answers. While security has been pushed to the top of the agenda for numerous organizations, receiving additional investment and attention, it does not appear the same organizations are getting any better at protecting themselves. The fact 13% more organizations have been attacked in the last 12 month suggests it could be getting worse.

To finish, the study asked whether an individual felt their organization was well enough protected. Only 18% believe they are.

@BizCloud
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