Only 23% of organisations across Australia and New Zealand have complete knowledge of where their data is stored , according to new research from Thales.
The 2021 Thales Global Data Threat Report found 64% of ANZ organisations have been breached in the past, and amongst those 47% had it happen in the last year.
In the past 12 months, half of ANZ businesses surveyed have failed a compliance audit, and 57% of organisations in ANZ were able to avoid a breach notification process because the stolen or leaked data was anonymised using encryption or tokenisation.
While the pandemic and remote working have driven cloud investments and tighter security strategies, most businesses across ANZ still show concerning data vulnerabilities. In fact, only 23% in ANZ have a complete knowledge of where their data is stored, and only only 25% can fully classify all their data.
The study, conducted by 451 Research, surveyed 2,600 executives with responsibility for, or influence over, IT and data security across the globe. One third of respondents were from the APAC region, including 152 executives across ANZ.
Overall, the local data shows that vulnerabilities are rising, mostly driven by more complex cloud environments and infrastructures. Human error and insider threats remain high on the list of threats too, but more organisations are prioritising encryption, tokenisation and Zero Trust approaches to increase their defence.
Attacks on the rise
The report shows 64% of ANZ organisations have been breached in the past (versus the regional average of 56%), of which 47% said they were breached in the past 12 months (versus the regional average of 40%).
In addition, half of organisations in ANZ (51%) have failed a compliance audit in the last 12 months.
The threat landscape is ever changing, organisations in ANZ are increasingly seeing a rise in attacks, with malware and ransomware amongst the most frequent offenders.
Internal threats and human error are also still of great concern with a third of all the businesses surveyed stating are the greatest risks to them, followed by external attackers.
Security a main concern and priority for businesses
According to the report, 55% of organisations in ANZ have seen an increase in the volume, severity, and/or scope of cyber-attacks in the past 12 months. Most organisations also admitted they are concerned about the security risks and threats of employees working remotely.
Interestingly, 57% of organisations were able to avoid a breach notification process because the stolen or leaked data was anonymised using encryption or tokenisation.
Multicloud complexity increases risks
In APAC, 31% of respondents have 41-50% of their data is stored in an external cloud, and a quarter have more than half of their data in the cloud.
Over half of APAC respondents (58%) said that they are using more than one IaaS provider. The number of SaaS providers was much higher, with 38% using 26-50 SaaS applications, 23% using 11-25 and 14% using 51-100 SaaS apps.
The report says 46% of APAC respondents agreed that it is more complex to manage privacy and data protection regulations in a cloud environment than in on-premises networks within their organisation.
Worryingly, only 30% of APAC respondents said that 41-50% of the sensitive data stored in cloud is encrypted, and only 17% stated that over 50% is encrypted.
Future challenges and securing the road ahead
The largest percentage of APAC respondents (46%) selected Zero Trust network access or software-defined perimeter technologies as their leading technology to deploy. Cloud-based access was the second most important access technology, selected by 41% of respondents.
Encryption was selected by 67% of APAC respondents as their preferred tool to secure sensitive data in cloud. Key management ranked second (58%), while tokenisation of data was chosen by 52%.
The lack of higher levels of encryption use may be due to the complexity of managing it across the full infrastructure. Respondents indicated that this was already complex, with 38% saying that they have five to seven key management solutions in place.
"The increased reliance on multi-cloud environments and the growing number of cyber threats is making security more challenging," says Brian Grant, ANZ Director for Cloud Protection and Licensing activities at Thales.
"It is concerning that a large number of organisations still don't know where all their data is stored or are failing compliance audits, in particular as those are just the first step to achieving effective cyber protection.
"This is why embedded security through data anonymisation and Zero Trust strategies need to be prioritised if we want to future proof our digitised economy, guarantee privacy, and in the process avoid costly cyber incidents and data breach remediations."