Despite wide reporting of recent data breaches, UK IT professionals are still not using advanced methods to protect data, with as many as half admitting that user accounts are 'not very secure'.
Research by Vanson Bourne, on behalf of cyber security firm Intercede, has found that 86 per cent of system administrators in UK businesses are only using username and password authentication to protect their company's IT systems. Almost one in five (17 per cent) use simple passwords, with two-thirds using complex password.
Passwords are the most common method of accessing business accounts when working remotely, with more than half (54 per cent) of respondents doing so. 89 per cent of respondents said that they used complex passwords when accessing company data off-site.
Authentication is acknowledged as a weak link in the security chain; a Verizon report from this year shows that more than 80 per cent of hacking-related breaches are accomplished using weak or stolen passwords.
Use of non-password authentication methods were low: Intercede found that only six per cent of firms were using virtual smart cards and PINs, and two per cent used biometric security.
"Sysadmins effectively hold the ‘keys to the kingdom', and relying on username and password authentication is a bit like relying on a basic Yale lock to secure your front door," said Intercede's CEO and chairman Richard Harris. "Even the least security conscious of us also bolt the door with a five-lever mortice lock and many go much further. In today's age of the hack, when compromised passwords are the root of the vast majority of security breaches, UK businesses clearly need to do much more - it isn't simply their data that is compromised, it's ours.
"It's time businesses finally take security seriously and look at stronger methods of authentication to protect information. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due for adoption next year, businesses can be held criminally liable for failing to adequately protect customer data, with severe consequences for the bottom line and for corporate reputation. There's no excuse for continuing to play Russian roulette with data and privacy."
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