Businesses exposed to data loss by insecure cloud and social networking platforms

A new survey shows that UK organisations are more vulnerable than ever to attack from cybercriminals looking to exploit new weaknesses in platforms which have been adopted but not properly secured.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has found that denial of service (DoS) and data hacks are currently occurring at twice the rate of 2008 levels and the management of IT systems and the security of data need to be given more attention than they are currently receiving.

This jump in cyber attacks since 2008 is being attributed to the growing adoption of different, immature technologies, with which businesses are unable to keep up in terms of security. This includes the prevalence of Wi-Fi use, along with remote employee access to internal systems and VoIP services.

Small and medium sized businesses are now twice as likely to be using wireless networking, whilst 90 per cent of larger organisations allow their staff to access data and services remotely.

PWC is putting the growth in adoption of virtualisation and cloud computing solutions down to the fact that in the recession many organisations were looking to cut costs and these made it possible to do so without compromising on functionality.

The study found that over 75 per cent of businesses now rely on some kind of cloud-based platform and nearly half of this group said that third party vendors were completely controlling systems considered critical to the continued operation of their business.

Interestingly it is public sector organisations controlled by the government which have shown the greatest reluctance to switch their systems over to new platforms, particularly when significant functions have been involved.

PWC found that 25 per cent of larger businesses have been subjected to DoS attacks in the last 12 months. A further 15 per cent have recorded a security breach.

PWC’s Chris Potter said that the level of encryption that businesses apply to data held with third party vendors is currently unacceptable, as only 17 per cent of those using cloud and virtualisation services have properly protected their data.

The report also focused on the way in which social networking sites represent serious problems for many businesses, as they can easily hemorrhage personal data into the wrong hands.

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