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2024 Thales Data Threat Report Reveals Rise in Ransomware Attacks, as Compliance Failings Leave Businesses Vulnerable to Breaches

20/03/2024

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27% increase in companies that fell victim to a ransomware attack last year, with 8% paying the ransom

43% of enterprises failed a compliance audit last year, with those companies 10x more likely to suffer a data breach

Human error identified as the top cause of data breaches for the second year in a row

Thales today the release of the 2024 Thales Data Threat Report, its annual report on the latest data security threats, trends, and emerging topics based on a survey of nearly 3000 IT and security professionals in 18 countries across 37 industries. This year's report found that 93% of IT professionals believe security threats are increasing in volume or severity, a significant rise from 47% last year.

Threats continue to increase in volume and severity

The number of enterprises experiencing ransomware attacks surged by over 27% in the past year. Despite this escalating threat, less than half of organisations have a formal ransomware plan in place, with 8% resorting to paying the ransom demands.

Malware stands out as the fastest-growing threat of 2024, with 41% of enterprises witnessing a malware attack in the past year - closely followed by phishing and ransomware. Cloud assets, including SaaS applications, cloud-based storage, and cloud infrastructure management, remain the primary targets for such attacks.

The report shows that for a second year running, human error remains the leading cause of data breaches, with 31% of enterprises pinpointing this as the root cause.

These insights are drawn from the 2024 Thales Data Threat Report, conducted by 451 Research. The report sheds light on how businesses are adapting their data security strategies and practices in response to an evolving threat landscape.

Compliance is the key to data security

The research found that over two fifths (43%) of enterprises failed a compliance audit in the past twelve months - with the report highlighting a very clear correlation between compliance and data security.

Of those that had failed a compliance audit in the past twelve months, 31% had experienced a breach that very same year. This compares to just 3% of those who had passed compliance audits.

Operational complexity continues to cause data headaches

Fundamental understanding of what systems, applications, and data are at risk continue to lag due to changing regulatory and threat landscapes. Only a third (33%) of organisations are able to fully classify all of their data, with a worrying 16% stating that they classify very little or none of their data.

Operational complexity remains a barrier. While the number of respondents reporting five or more key management systems is down (53% versus 62% last year), the average number declined only slightly (from 5.6 to 5.4).

The reality of multicloud across services and changing global data privacy regulations means that data sovereignty is a leading priority for businesses, with 28% identifying mandatory external key management as the leading way to achieve sovereignty. 39% said that data residency would no longer be an issue provided that external encryption, key management, and separation of duties were implemented.

Enterprises need to know exactly what they're trying to protect. With global data privacy regulations continually changing, they need to have good visibility across their organization to stand any chance of staying compliant, said Sebastien Cano, Senior Vice President at Thales Cloud Protection and Licensing.

If there's one key takeaway from this year's study, it's that compliance is key. In fact, companies that had a good hold over their compliance processes and passed all their audits were also less likely to suffer a breach. We'll start to see more compliance and security functions coming together. This would be a huge positive step to strengthen cyber defenses and build trust with customers, he added.

Emerging technology poses both threats and opportunities

Looking ahead, the report also explored which emerging technologies are top-of-mind for IT and security professionals, with 57% identifying Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a huge source of concern. This was closely followed by IoT (55%) and Post Quantum Cryptography (45%).

That said, enterprises are also looking at the opportunities that emerging technologies bring, with over a fifth (22%) planning to integrate Generative AI into their security products and services in the next 12 months, and a third (33%) planning to experiment integrating the technology.

For more information please join our webinar with S&P Global on April 16, 2024 hosted by Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst and Justin Lam, Research Analyst.

About the 2024 Thales Global Data Threat ReportThe 2024 Data Threat Report (DTR) analyzes how core security practices have changed in response to or in anticipation of changing threats. This report also offers perspectives on what organizations can do to leverage data assets to expand opportunities to make their businesses more agile and build trust with their customers. This research was based on a global survey of 2,961 respondents fielded via web survey with targeted populations for each country, aimed at professionals in security and IT management. In addition to criteria about level of knowledge on the general topic of the survey, the screening criteria for the survey excluded those respondents who indicated affiliation with organizations with annual revenue of less than US$100 million and with US$100 million-$250 million in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America

About Thales

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies with
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