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Tuesday, 10 July 2018 16:01

'Secure, not secure' Australian IT decision makers tell researchers

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There are some curious inconsistencies in IT decision makers' view of their organisations' posture, judging by a new study.

Security company Gemalto surveyed 1050 IT decision makers in various countries including Australia, and the results make interesting reading.

For example, only 48% of Australian respondents said their organisation currently has policies and procedures in place for how sensitive information should be protected in line with government legislation, yet 94% said they were confident that their organisation would comply with the European GDPR by 25 May.

That was a higher percentage than respondents in European countries — Belgium and Netherlands (84%), UK (84%), Germany (87%) and France (92%) — where organisations are far more likely to need to comply with GDPR.

Furthermore, 47% of respondents said they think that their organisation can highly effectively analyse the data which it collects. How can you be sure that you comply with any particular set of regulations if you cannot accurately categorise the data you hold? And what's the point of storing data — thereby incurring costs and security risks — if you can't do anything with it?

Also, a hefty 84% of Australian respondents — the biggest proportion of all surveyed countries — believe that unauthorised users are able to access their corporate networks. Yet 65% (again, the biggest proportion of any country surveyed) are extremely confident that their data is secure.

Does all this reveal good IT security practices on the part of Australian organisations, or unjustified optimism? Subsequent studies may provide an answer.

"If businesses can't analyse all of the data they collect, they can't understand the value of it - and that means they won't know how to apply the appropriate security controls to that data," said Gemalto vice-president and CTO for data protection, Jason Hart.

"Whether it's selling it on the dark web, manipulating it for financial gain or to damage reputations, unsecured data is a goldmine for hackers. You only need to look at the recent hacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Luge Federation to see the damage that can be done. What's more, data manipulation can take years to discover, and with data informing everything from business strategy to sales and product development, its value and integrity cannot be underestimated."

Hart added: "Organisations must realise that it's no longer a case of if, but when a breach occurs, and protect their most valuable asset - data - through encryption, two-factor authentication and key management, rather than solely focusing on perimeter protection."

Gemalto's latest Data Security Confidence Index report is available for download.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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