Nearly half of organizations have an enterprise encryption strategy that is applied consistently across the entire organization, a new encryption survey revealed. Forty-three percent of respondents to Thales’ “2018 Global Encryption Trends Study” said their employer had an enterprisewide encryption plan in place for 2017. That’s up from 41 percent in 2016 and 37 percent in 2015.

Enterprise Encryption Strategy Adoption on the Upswing

Thales began tracking the evolution of encryption back in 2005. In the 13 years that followed, the firm observed a steady increase in organizations adopting an encryption strategy. The company reported a decline in companies with no such strategy or plan over the same period: Just 13 percent of respondents said they lacked a comprehensive encryption policy in 2017, down from 15 percent two years prior.

Not all survey participants reported having a consistent plan across the entire organization, but the percentage of professionals with a limited enterprise encryption strategy didn’t change from 2016. Forty-four percent of respondents said their organization had a limited approach in both 2016 and 2017, which is up from just a quarter of individuals in 2015.

IT Security Spending on the Rise

For the study, Thales commissioned the Ponemon Institute to survey 5,252 individuals across industry sectors in the U.S., U.K. and 10 other countries. Their responses provided the company with insight into how enterprises’ use of encryption has evolved.

Their answers also illuminated how much budget employers are allocating to encryption and IT security. The former declined slightly from 14 percent in 2016 to 12 percent in 2017. At the same time, organizations spent approximately 10 percent of their overall IT spending on security, a percentage that marked a record high in a 13-year upward slope.

The report indicated some areas where both encryption and security spending could grow. One of them was cloud, with 21 percent of professionals expecting their organization to transfer sensitive or confidential data to the cloud within the next year or so. That’s in addition to the 61 percent of respondents who already do so.

Human Error an Ongoing Risk to Data

The Thales survey revealed that employee mistakes weighed heavily on respondents’ minds. Forty-seven percent of professionals cited human error as the most salient threat to sensitive or confidential data, followed by system or process malfunction and cybercriminals at 31 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

To protect against employee mistakes, organizations should balance technical controls with training that helps employees take responsibility for their actions.

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