Human error is still the biggest source of data leaks in companies, but the risks can be offset with proper IT management, according to a new study by Accenture.
A phone and email survey of 5,500 businesses and 15,000 individuals showed that, while 58 per cent of companies had suffered a data breach in the past two years, around half did not get hit as they showed a strong procedural methodology to protecting data.
"If an employee loses a laptop that's human error; if the laptop's hard drive is not encrypted that's a policy error," Bill Phelps, a director in Accenture's security practice, told V3.co.uk.
The majority of data leaks are down to simple employee mistakes, he said, while staff who actively plan to steal data are much more rare, and outside hackers less common still. Many of the incidents could have been prevented with proper guidelines and practices.
The use of third parties to handle data is a major issue, Phelps said. IT managers need to examine first hand the security procedures used by third-party data handlers and should also look to certification before giving out contracts.
"Looking for the formal certification of third parties is a necessary step, but including security organisers in the assessment of third-party providers is equally necessary," he said.
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