Security pros say enterprise invests in the wrong technologies

John P. Mello Jr., TechHive
16 February, 2013
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More than a third of security professionals say their security spending is being deployed on the wrong technologies, according to a survey released this week by SafeNet, a data protection company.

Despite continued investments in network perimeter defenses, 35 percent of 230 security professionals in the United States said they weren’t confident they were using the right technologies to secure high-value data, according to the survey by the Belcamp, Md. firm.

That finding surprised SafeNet’s Chief Strategy Officer Tsion Gonen. “They’re telling us in the same sentence, ‘We know it’s not working, we think we will be breached, but we’re going to continue to do a lot of the same,’” he said in an interview.

“That’s the definition of insanity,” he said. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

While investing to shore up their perimeter defenses, a majority of those surveyed predicted dire consequences if their defenses are penetrated. More than half (59 percent) said their data would not be safe once the perimeters were breached, according to the study.

Moreover, almost two-thirds (65 percent) said they expect to suffer a data breach in the next three years.

Nevertheless, 74 percent fully believe their perimeter defenses are effective in keeping unauthorised users from reaching their data, though 31 percent acknowledged that those defenses had been breached in the past.

Although an overwhelming 95 percent of the security pros revealed that they either maintained or increased spending on perimeter security, more than half felt that their organisations weren’t spending enough on security.

SafeNet researchers also found skepticism about the security industry’s ability to protect them from network marauders. Only 19 percent were confident in the industry’s ability to protect their organisations from data breaches – and nearly half (49 percent) were unconvinced that the industry could thwart the threats now facing them.

Many organisations are in a state of denial over current cyber threats, Gonen said. “When will this denial stage end?” he asked. “I think it’s going to end in a painful manner for many organisations.”

Perimeter defenses could protect data well in the days of limited access to that data, but that’s not the case any more, he said. “Everybody has access and data is everywhere — in the cloud, on a laptop, on a phone.”

“This makes life for people after access to that data much easier because the concept of a perimeter is dissolving altogether,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s dead, but it’s not doing really well.”

Organisations should accept that they’ll be breached and protect their data based on that assumption, he said. “It’s easy to get into a bank,” he said. “What’s hard is getting to the money, because it’s in a safe.”

Not everyone agrees with Gonen’s analysis. “Better perimeter solutions are needed that are effective and workable,” George Tubin, a senior security strategist with Trusteer, a Boston-based cyber security company said in an interview.

“That’s the direction we need to go instead of throwing up our hands and saying, ‘Let’s figure out what to do after the breaches happen because we can’t stop them,’” he said.

The new perimeter is made up of the endpoints of the network, he added. “That’s where the battleground is,” he said. “You have to beat the criminals there and not allow them to compromise that device.”

Read more about data protection in CSOonline’s Data Protection section.

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