2017 Thales Data Threat Report: security spending decisions leave sensitive data vulnerable


Breaches and security spending have increased by 22% and 15% respectively from last year, the report reveals.

* Thales announces the results of its 2017 Thales Data Threat Report, issued in conjunction with analyst firm 451 Research.
* Trends: Breaches and security spending have increased respectively by 22% and 15% from last year.
* Visit Thales at booth #S1007 South Expo, RSA Conference, Moscone Center, San Francisco, 13-16 February 2017.

Thales, a leader in critical information systems, cyber security and data security, announces the results of its 2017 Thales Data Threat Report, issued in conjunction with analyst firm 451 Research.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents have experienced a breach, with 26% experiencing a breach in the last year – both numbers that rose from last year. Paradoxically, overall security spending is also up; in 2017, 73% of organisations increased IT security spending – a marked jump from 2016 (58%).

Old habits die hard

The report, which is in its fifth year, polled 1 100 senior IT security executives at large enterprises around the world, and indicates an ongoing disconnect between the security solutions organisations spend money on and the ability of those solutions to protect sensitive data.

While 30% of respondents classify their organisations as ‘very vulnerable’ or ‘extremely vulnerable’ to data attacks (and the number of breaches continues to rise), the two top spending priorities are network (62%) and endpoint (56%) protection solutions. Counterintuitively, spending on data-at-rest solutions (46%) comes last.

Garrett Bekker, senior analyst, information security at 451 Research and author of the report, says: “One possible explanation for this troubling state? Organisations keep spending on the same solutions that worked for them in the past but aren’t necessarily the most effective at stopping modern breaches. Data protection tactics need to evolve to match today’s threats. It stands to reason that if security strategies aren’t equally as dynamic in this fast-changing threat environment, the rate of breaches will continue to increase.”

Compliance the top driver for IT security spending

The reasons behind security spending decisions are varied, but the key driver remains constant: compliance. Almost half (44%) of respondents list meeting compliance requirements as their top spending priority, followed by best practices (38%) and protecting reputation/brand (36%). Fifty-nine percent also believe compliance is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ effective at preventing data breaches.

While compliance regulations provide a data security blueprint, they are by no means are the only consideration when building a security strategy robust enough to withstand today’s sophisticated attackers.

External, internal cyber actors the top threat

As in years past, the 2017 Data Threat Report explored threat perceptions. All vertical industries polled identified cyber criminals as the top threat (44%), followed by hacktivists (17%), cyber terrorists (15%) and nation-states (12%). With respect to internal threats, 58% of respondents believe privileged users are the most dangerous insiders (a slight decrease from last year’s 63%). At 44%, executive management is seen as the second most risky insider, followed by ordinary employees (36%) and contractors (33%).

Securing data from future threats: promise or peril?

In this age of the cloud and SaaS enterprise deployments, more and more enterprise data is being created, transported, processed and stored outside corporate network boundaries, making traditional perimeter-based security controls and legacy network and endpoint protection solutions increasingly less relevant. Other new, popular technologies also bring added security challenges. For example, nearly 40% of respondents are using Docker containers for production applications. At the same time, 47% cite security as the ‘top barrier’ to broader Docker container adoption.

To offset the data breach trend and take advantage of new technologies and innovations, organisations should, at a minimum, adhere to the following practices:

* Leverage encryption and access controls as a primary defence for data and consider an ‘encrypt everything’ strategy;
* Select data security platform offerings that address a variety of use cases and emphasise ease-of-use; and
* Implement security analytics and multi-factor authentication solutions to help identify threatening patterns of data use.


The data in this study is based on Web and phone interviews of 1 105 senior executives in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US. Most have a major influence on or are the sole decision-maker for IT at their respective companies.

Respondents represented the following industries: automotive; education; energy; engineering; federal government; healthcare; IT; retail; and telecommunications.