What your users really think about data security

A new survey finds users have a low opinion of IT. Nothing new, there except this wrinkle: Their complaints aren’t about service, they just think IT isn’t doing a very good job of data security. 

Most in IT would be surprised to hear that users give data security much thought at all outside of regular training sessions or  security audits. But according to a Varonis survey by the Ponemon Institute:

  • 71% of users said they have access to company data that they shouldn’t be able to see, and
  • a third of users (33%) said that protecting critical company information was either low priority or not a priority at their organization.

Worse still, 34% said their companies don’t restrict information on a need-to-know basis. Only 20% said such policies are fully restricted.

Criticism might not be unfounded

The flip side of these findings is that if you give users an opportunity to complain about IT, they’ll likely take it no matter the topic they’re asked to weigh in on.

But IT also weighed in on this survey. And it didn’t necessarily roundly defend security practices.

While 73% of respondents said protecting data was top priority for the IT department, only 51% said protecting company data was top-of-mind for CEOs and other C-level employees.

Fewer still (47%) said employees take the proper security steps to protect the data that’s entrusted to them.

Takeaway: Everyone can do better

Getting on the same page with your users when it comes to security is probably impossible. They’ll always put less of a premium on working securely than getting their jobs done.

However, there can and should be some common ground when it comes to making sure things run securely. Both users and IT pros said that users acting negligently put data at the most risk.

Sell users on security by reminding them you’re all in this together. In the Sony hack, users’ information was stolen right alongside the company’s private data.

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