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Encryption Adoption On The Rise

Rise in breaches, increase in cloud adoption are natural drivers for encryption, but hurdles remain for many organizations worldwide.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – RSA Conference 2016 – More than half of organizations worldwide are sending sensitive or confidential data to the cloud yet just 37 percent have a consistent encryption strategy.

A new study shows how the epidemic of data breaches has many organizations finally embracing encryption of their sensitive data, but some serious hurdles remain. There's been a big jump in the number of organizations using encryption across the enterprise rather than just as a point solution: 41% say they encryption is adopted extensively in their organizations, an increase from 16% in 2005. The catch, though, is encryption budgets have dropped in the past three years, according to the Ponemon Institute's  2016 Global Encryption Trends Study, commissioned by Thales e-Security and Vormetric Data Security.

Ponemon polled 5,000 IT and business managers in the US, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia, and the Russian Federation, for the study, which was commissioned by Thales e-Security and Vormetric Data Security.

Some 15% of respondents say their organizations have no comprehensive strategy for encryption.

Encryption adoption depends on the industry: financial services and healthcare are the biggest users of encryption, which has a lot to do with regulatory pressures. The manufacturing and consumer products industries are the least like to adopt encryption.

As with most security technology adoption, compliance is a big factor driving encryption. More than 60% of respondents say compliance with privacy and security rules are the main reason they are adopting encryption across the organization, while compliance with internal policies (15%) and avoiding a data breach disclosure (8%) ranked much lower.

Surprisingly, human resources and employee data is at the top of the list of most likely encrypted data (62%), followed by payment data (55%), financial records (48%), customer information (36%), and health-related data (20%).

Meanwhile, some 84% of organizations say they will be sending sensitive or confidential data to the cloud in the next two years. The survey didn’t specify how organizations were transferring their sensitive information to the cloud: “We didn’t ask if they were encrypting or using data masking,” says Peter Galvin, vice president of strategy at Thales. But with the data showing the majority going to the cloud in two years with their sensitive data, “they are going to need a security encryption strategy,” he says.

Galvin says he’s seeing organizations looking to encrypt as much data as possible -- as long as it’s manageable. They want to “encrypt as much information as possible in the most simple way to manage it so they are protecting all” of their data, he says.

One of the biggest hurdles to encryption: first of all, getting on top of where sensitive data resides in today’s “borderless” network. Fifty-seven percent say that’s the biggest challenge for them, followed by the initial deployment of encryption (49%) and identifying which data to encrypt (35%).

Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute, says the wave of mega-breaches and attacks has pressured more organizations to up their game and encrypt more data. “The findings of this year’s study demonstrate the importance of both encryption and key management across a wide range of core enterprise applications – from networking, databases and application level encryption to PKI, payments, public and private cloud computing and more,” he says.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 12:36:55 PM
biggest hurdles
Data classification and identification are huge hurdles when trying to implement an encryption methodology. It's a principle thats all too important but many times seems to fall by the wayside.
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 12:33:07 PM
Encryption budgets dropping
"We want you to do more....but with less." Main point, you can't expect to incorporate a competent solution with heightened budgetary constraints.
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