Cisco Data Leakage Study Assesses the ‘Insider Threat’
Global Security Research Reveals Scope of Employee Risk, Biggest Concerns Around Information Loss Due to Inadvertent and Malicious Behavior
Mumbai, India - November 13, 2008 - Cisco today issued the third and final set of findings from its global security study on data leakage, shedding light on the employee "insider threat" to corporate information. The latest security findings compare the information technology profession’s biggest concerns around employee risk with the reality of employees’ behavior, which regardless of whether it’s inadvertent or malicious, can impact company brands and cost businesses a fortune.
Conducted by InsightExpress, a U.S. market research firm, the security study was commissioned by Cisco to assess the implications of data leakage as businesses become more collaborative, mobile and distributed. The latest findings round out previously published research on employee data leakage mistakes and corporate security policies. All three sets of security findings are drawn from surveys of more than 2,000 employees and IT professionals in 10 countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, India, Australia and Brazil.
"The blending of work vs. home and public vs. private means that data can be accessed, transmitted, stored and stolen from anywhere at any time," said John N. Stewart, chief security officer of Cisco. "As a result, the approach to data protection must change. From the largest corporate enterprise to the youngest consumer, we all share the responsibility to maintain awareness and discipline in protecting information. As we’ve said all along, this research presents an opportunity to evolve security toward a necessary combination of education, policy and technology."
Such change begins with IT, Stewart added, particularly with the perception of employees’ behavioral impact on data loss. One of the study’s most noteworthy findings is IT’s widespread belief that employees are becoming more cognizant of security risks and are more diligent in protecting data. For example, four of every five IT professionals in China and one of every two in France believe their employees have become more committed to protecting corporate information over the past few years.
But the research suggests a different story, casting light on one of its most sobering findings: While the majority of security threats exist outside an organization, the study shows that the "insider threat," whether it’s accidental or malicious, can be as prevalent as any external source.
"We speak about intellectual property as the most important data set to protect, whereas the highest cost and impact is when an organization loses customer data," Stewart said. "If you think about it, it's the most important data to protect in an organization because it isn't yours. You are just a guardian and customers rely on your diligence to protect their information.
"Employee data, which almost all organizations have somewhere, is an additionally important data class as we want those who work for and with us to rest assured that their personal information is secure and safe," Stewart added. "And of course, intellectual property data is clearly valued and many times proprietary. In all cases though, data loss can undermine a company’s brand, ruin competitive advantage, impact shareholder value, erode customer trust, and jeopardize vital partnerships."
Stewart noted that companies can take a number of recommended steps to minimize risk and contain the costs associated with data loss.
Today, security executives from Cisco present the study’s final set of findings in greater detail during the company’s inaugural Cisco IT Security Virtual Conference. To attend the security conference, go to: http://events.unisfair.com/index.jsp?eid=331&seid=29&code=168073_3
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