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Clearswift Survey: ''When It Comes to Data Security Breaches, the General Public Doesn't Need to Know''

US IT Managers Grappling with Increased Risk and Facing Higher Costs ¶ Results highligh

When it comes to data security breaches, 78 percent of US IT decision-makers feel that companies do not need to inform the general public; this according to a recent survey by content security specialists Clearswift. While respondents felt the general public did not need to know (78%), they did indicate that affected customers and partners should be informed (95%) while less than half of them felt that industry regulators (42%) or even the police (35%) should be notified.

Of the U.S. organizations polled, 19 percent had suffered a data loss in the last 12-18 months, and of those, 50 percent had experienced more than one. Despite the fact that more than 89 percent of those surveyed said that data loss/data breach was a very important or critical issue to their organizations, the research indicated that they are still not locking down the transfer of sensitive information appropriately. E-mail is the most popular method of transferring confidential data (over 70% allow staff to transfer confidential data via e-mail), and yet over a quarter of businesses (26%) admit to losing data via e-mail.

To counter the threat, 88 percent have security measures in place to prevent data breaches or data losses from happening. But 28% don’t have e-mail content filtering solutions in place, 24% don’t have Web content filtering in place and 24% don’t have encryption solutions in place. Moreover, 23% don’t have a policy on DLP and 10% didn’t even know if they had one.

“The survey shows that US businesses consider DLP as very important, but that much still needs to be done to address the issues. With unclear policies and laws that are not thorough or well publicized there is a long way to go before companies really reach the point where data loss protection is truly addressed,” said Mike Lisi, general manager, Americas for Clearswift. “The majority of the IT decision makers that we surveyed have both policies and security measures in place to prevent data beaches. While the majority are prepared, our research shows that when faced with the prospect of having to air some dirty laundry in public, companies are not always confident they will emerge in a positive light, and feel that potential legislation enforcing disclosure could be expensive and create significantly more work for the IT department.”

While the threat of data loss or breach continues to increase, there are still organizations that have not invested in data security. Respondents indicated the following as the top three reasons why:

  • 21 percent feel that data loss prevention is not a security threat,
  • 37 percent do not have the budget to invest in data loss prevention solutions, and
  • 16 percent trust their employees to follow the corporate policy.

When asked about the possible impact of data breach notification legislation, 49 percent of respondents that do not currently adhere to data breach notification legislation envision their annual IT spend increasing by at least 10 percent. In comparison, only one in five (20%) respondents who currently adhere to data breach notification legislation said they have seen no change in their IT spending since the legislation's introduction. Additionally, half (50%) of IT managers expect any new data breach notification legislation to damage the reputation of their organization, while only 32 percent of respondents adhering to this legislation claimed to have suffered damage to their reputation. Only 11 percent felt that data breach notification legislation would positively impact their business while 31 percent of those currently adhering to legislation indicated the legislation has had neither a positive or negative impact.

“Clearswift’s solutions are affordable and easy-to-use, which is what the market clearly needs,” said Lisi of Clearswift. “DLP is a top of mind issue that companies will be grappling with for the foreseeable future. We will continue to provide the products and services needed to help organizations address these issues in the best way possible.”

“Nearly anyone deploying a DLP solution will eventually want to start blocking traffic. There’s only so long you can take watching all your juicy sensitive data running to the nether regions of the Internet before you start taking some action,” said Rich Mogull, analyst and founder of Securosis. “But blocking isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially since we’re trying to allow good traffic, only block bad traffic, and make the decision using real time content analysis.”1

“The exposure of confidential information is now the single greatest threat to enterprise network security, according to IDC's latest Security Survey,” said Brian Burke, program director at IDC. “However, the survey also showed that only 34% of organizations are currently budgeting for DLP solutions. The top barriers for DLP investment are lack of budget and the belief that solutions are too complex to manage.”

Lisi added: “Data loss and data breaches are becoming a bigger and bigger problem today, and companies need to evaluate their current security policies and measures to ensure that they are fully protected. A layered approach to security that monitors all content leaving the business and simultaneously managing multiple outlets is by far the most successful solution.”

Clearswift’s content security technology helps companies monitor all content leaving their organization via e-mail and the Internet, preventing any confidential information reaching the outside world, whether sent accidentally or maliciously. At the same time, Clearswift can protect organizations from spam, viruses, spyware and web-borne malware, as well as help define and enforce policies on acceptable Internet usage.

About the research

All the above figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Clearswift. Total sample size was 3,340 US IT decision-makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 10 and April 10, 2008. The survey was completed online.

About Clearswift

Clearswift helps organizations of all sizes conduct business safely over the Internet.

Our policy-based content filtering and security solutions block bad content such as spam, viruses, malware, spyware and pornography; protect sensitive information by preventing leaks; and prevent time-wasting and abuse by controlling inappropriate use of the Web and social media while eliminating exposure to offensive content.

Clearswift makes it easy to deploy, manage and maintain no-compromise e-mail and Web security across all gateways and in all directions. And our EAL4 accredited military and government solutions protect some of the world’s most security-sensitive organizations.

Our technology reflects twenty years of experience across more than 17,000 organizations with a pedigree based upon granular policy management; easy administration; and the ability to combine best-of-breed security tools into powerful, no-compromise defenses.

Clearswift customers use the Internet with confidence.


1Mogull, Rich, “Understanding and Selecting a DLP Solution: Part 3, Data-In-Motion Technical Architecture,” September 18, 2007, Securosis.com

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