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One in Five Businesses Have Paid or Would Pay a Ransom for Their Data, Finds Thales

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New research from Thales has found that malware, ransomware and phishing continues to plague global organisations. In fact, one in five (21%) have experienced a ransomware attack in the last year; with 43% of those experiencing a significant impact on operations.

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First seen in the late 1980’s, with the PC Cyborg Virus, the frequency and impact of ransomware attacks has now accelerated due to the rise of cryptocurrency as the preferred ransomware payment method. In fact, the 2022 Thales Data Threat Report, conducted by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, including more than 2,700 IT decision-makers worldwide, found a fifth (22%) of organisations have admitted that they have paid or would pay a ransom for their data. Despite this, 41% of respondents said they had no plans to change security spending, even with greater ransomware impacts.

Additionally, less than half of respondents (48%) have implemented a formal ransomware plan. Healthcare was the most prepared at 57% with a formal ransomware plan; energy the least at 44%. Despite both sectors experiencing significant breaches over the past twelve months.

Data Visibility is a Challenge

As more companies adopt multicloud strategies and hybrid work remains the norm, IT leaders continue to be challenged by the sprawl of data across their organizations and find it more difficult to locate all of their data. Just over half (56%) of IT leaders were very confident or had complete knowledge of where their data was being stored, down from 64% the previous year1, and only a quarter (25%) stated they were able to classify all their data.

Threats & Compliance Challenges

Throughout 2021, security incidents remained high, with almost a third (29%) of businesses experiencing a breach in the past 12 months. Additionally, almost half (43%) of IT Leaders admitted to having failed a compliance audit.

Globally, IT leaders ranked malware (56%), ransomware (53%) and phishing (40%) as the leading source of security attacks. Managing these risks is an ongoing challenge, with almost half (45%) of IT leaders reporting an increase in the volume, severity and/or scope of cyberattacks in the past 12 months.

The Cloud is Increasing Complexity & Risk

Cloud adoption is increasing with more than a third (34%) of respondents saying they used more than 50 Software as a Service (SaaS) apps and 16% used more than 100 apps. However, 51% of IT leaders agreed that it is more complex to manage privacy and data protection regulations in a cloud environment than in on-premises networks within their organization, up from 46% last year.

The 2022 Data Threat Report also revealed significant momentum amongst businesses to store data in the cloud, with 32% of respondents stating that around halfi of their workloads and data resides in external clouds, and a quarter (23%) reporting more than 60%. However, 44% reported that they had experienced a breach or failed an audit in their cloud environments.

Additionally, the use of encryption to protect sensitive data is low, with only half of respondents (50%) disclosing that more than 40% of their sensitive data has been encrypted, and a fifth (22%) stating more than 60%. Representing a significant ongoing risk for businesses.

Remote Work Worries

Another full year of remote working demonstrated that navigating security risks is proving a significant challenge for businesses. Worryingly, the majority of businesses (79%) are still concerned about the security risks and threats that posed by remote working. Only half of IT leaders (55%) reported to have implemented multi factor authentication (MFA), a figure unchanged from the previous year2.

Threats on the Horizon

However, the report also showed that IT leaders have significant diversity of spending technology priorities – suggesting they are serious about tackling complex threat environments. A quarter (26%) stated that broad cloud security toolsets are the greatest future spending priority. Additionally, a similar number of IT leaders (25%) stated they were prioritising key management, with Zero Trust3 an important strategy for 23%.

IT leaders are also increasingly aware of the future challenges on the horizon. Looking ahead, when asked to identify security threats from quantum computing, 52% said they were concerned with ‘tomorrow’s decryption of today’s data’, a concern that will likely be intensified by the increasing complexity of cloud environments.

Sebastien Cano, Senior Vice President for Cloud Protection and Licensing activities at Thales, comments: “As the pandemic continues to affect both our business and personal lives, any expectation of a ‘return’ to pre-pandemic conditions have faded. Whilst teams around the world have continued to face challenges in securing their data, our findings indicate that urgent action is needed by businesses to develop more robust cybersecurity strategies. The attack surface, as well as the asset management challenges, are only set to increase in the coming year, and it is vital that businesses deploy a robust security strategy based on discovery, protection and control.”

Thales and 451 Research will discuss the findings in more detail during a webinar on 31 March 2022. To join, please visit the registration page.

About the 2022 Thales Global Data Threat Report

The 2022 Thales Global Data Threat Report was based on a global 451 Research survey, fielded in January 2022, commissioned by Thales of more than 2,700 executives with responsibility for or influence over IT and data security. Respondents were from 17 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Organisations represented a range of industries, with a primary emphasis on healthcare, financial services, retail, technology, and federal government. Job titles ranged from C-level executives including CEO, CFO, Chief Data Officer, CISO, Chief Data Scientist, and Chief Risk Officer, to SVP/VP, IT Administrator, Security Analyst, Security Engineer, and Systems Administrator. Respondents represented a broad range of organizational sizes, with the majority ranging from 500 to 10,000 employees.

About Thales

Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) is a global leader in advanced technologies, investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations – connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum technologies – to build a confident future crucial for the development of our societies. The Group provides its customers – businesses, organizations and governments – in the defense, aeronautics, space, transport, and digital identity and security domains with solutions, services and products that help them fulfil their critical role, consideration for the individual being the driving force behind all decisions.

Thales has 81,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2021, the Group generated sales of €16.2 billion.

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1 Compared with data from the Thales 2021 Data Threat Report, conducted in January - February 2021.
2 Compared with data from the Thales 2021 Data Threat Report, conducted in January - February 2021.
3 Zero Trust is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of a digital interaction.

i Respondents selected between 41-60% of their workloads and data resides in external clouds

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Contact information

PRESS CONTACT

Thales, Media Relations
Security
Marion Bonnet
marion.bonnet@thalesgroup.com

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