Aussie enterprises losing sensitive data: report

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Organisations are frequently disciplining and even terminating employees for breaching enterprise email security policies and leaking sensitive data, according to the results of Proofpoint’s latest quarterly survey.

The research found that 48 percent of the 69 surveyed Australian organisations disciplined an employee; and 18.5 percent terminated an employee for violating email policies in the past 12 months.

According to Proofpoint, previous research has routinely found a high level of concern about data leakage via email. The latest findings indicate a similar situation.

“Australian organisations’ concerns about the risks associated with outbound email and data loss are rapidly catching up with the US,” said Gerry Tucker, regional head for Proofpoint in APAC.

The Australian survey, conducted in parallel with Proofpoint’s global study of email and data loss prevention issues provided the opportunity to benchmark local and international research, said the vendor.

“In the international survey, 23 percent of Australian organisations were impacted by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in the last 12 months, the same as the U.S."

"Around one in five Australian organisations terminated employees for email violations in the past year, closely following the US, where it was around one in four,” Tucker said.

The Proofpoint survey concluded that email messaging posed the greatest risk for most Australian enterprises. Sixty-two percent surveyed said email posed the greatest data loss risk; followed by webmail at 18 percent; other messaging protocols came in at 15 percent while blogs and message boards rounded out the stats with five percent.

According to Proofpoint, information leakage, can result in regulatory compliance violations, legal problems, loss of customer confidence and loss of competitive position.

“Organisations are still not clear about what’s happening with emails,” Tucker said. “Organisations are really struggling to come to terms with the potential cost of a security breach and are becoming more concerned about outbound threats via webmail and the loss of data."

Tucker warned that webmail would be a growing security risk for enterprises in the not so distant future.

"Over time the percentage for webmail use will grow as organisations become more concerned about that," he said.

The Proofpoint study was collected via an electronic survey during March and April 2008.
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