Security Market Segment LS
Monday, 19 April 2021 13:35

Rising number of data breaches must signal a change in security strategy

By Daniel Lai
archTIS CEO Daniel Lai archTIS CEO Daniel Lai

Guest Opinion: It’s widely known that data breaches pose a costly threat to any organisation, but the trend to work from home since the start of the coronavirus crisis a year ago has presented a new set of challenges for IT and security professionals.

This year, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) released its Notifiable Data Breaches Report, which unveiled an 18 per cent increase in reported breaches due to human error. This was by far the highest percentage increase across the categories and accounted for 38 per cent of breaches overall.

The OAIC warned organisations to reduce the risk of data breaches and prioritise training staff, as well as putting systems in place for detecting and containing breaches. The reality is this: even with user training and visibility, human error is ultimately inevitable, and working from home is likely to increase that error rate. Instead, we must update our security approach to match the new challenge.

Cybersecurity professionals recognise that there is an issue here. Recent research of 287 security professionals conducted by Cybersecurity Insiders found almost three-quarters of organisations are concerned about the security risks of having employees working from home, especially the threat of sensitive data leaving the perimeter. The apps that worry them the most; file sharing (68%), the web (47%), video conferencing (45%), and messaging (35%).

Despite this, 86 per cent of organisations say they are likely to support working from home in the future.

So, if remote work is here to stay and it’s a growing and inevitable cause of human-error led data breaches, what can we do to escape the trap?

Innovative security frameworks like Zero Trust network access are a good starting point, but they are not a silver bullet. Ultimately, we need to extend this granular, trust no one approach to the file level—the weakest link in the traditional security schema.

With standard security technologies, once you’re past the perimeter and have access to an application and file, it’s yours to share, copy, download etc. They won’t cut it in a world where insider threats due to simple mistakes are becoming as prevalent as malicious actors outside your organisation. Dynamic attribute-based access control (ABAC), which takes into account who should be able to access, collaborate, share or copy a given file, and at which times, locations and on what device, provides a more robust solution to prevent both human-error caused breaches and stop malicious insiders who purposefully steal data for personal gain.

Intellectual property, supply chain data and other sensitive information that can be either sold or put to use elsewhere is ultimately the goal of an attacker – inside or outside the organisation. This is likely why the OAIC found that healthcare providers and the finance sector experienced the most breaches, accounting for 38 per cent of total breaches.

Right now, zero-trust network access is only the fourth highest priority for cybersecurity professionals according to Cybersecurity Insiders’ research. This is cause for alarm, as such a low placement would indicate that most organisations are leaning on familiar technologies to solve a new problem.

To futureproof data security strategies and support remote work in the long term, we need to embrace zero-trust data security today or the breach numbers reported will likely continue to increase—adversely impacting any affected organisation’s bottom line and reputation.


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