Western Digital today released data that explored the attitudes and behaviours of over 634 employees (data users) and employers (data managers) around highly sensitive data in the Middle East. The research found that 77 per cent of data managers believe employee behaviour is a bigger threat to their highly sensitive data than external hackers, and that almost a third of data security incidents originates with employees.
In summer 2021, Western Digital spoke to 210 managers and 424 data users in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Respondents worked in media and entertainment, the public sector, legal professional services, healthcare and financial services, and in business ranging in size from small (10-99 employees) to enterprise (5000+ employees).
A large portion of uses are aware of the risks, with 32 per cent of data users surveyed saying they have put highly sensitive data at risk in the past 12 months. This is further complicated by the fact that data users continue to use poor security practices, especially when it comes to data sharing and storage.
The increase in remote and hybrid working styles have led to even more users working on collaborative projects that require data sharing. This has directly led to an increase in data threats and exposed information, as cited by data managers. Common risks include the sharing of physical hard disks and solid-state drives with colleagues in order to share data, along with sharing their work devices with family and friends.
With limited knowledge of the dangers of sharing data through unsecured means, many employees continued to use methods that are deemed unacceptable for transmitting sensitive data. The most common methods for sharing or transmitting highly sensitive data by employees were email (49 per cent) and cloud or online file sharing (40 per cent), ahead of HDD / SSD (39 per cent) and USB drives (28 per cent). These figures suggest ease of use and familiarity are key factors in the decision-making process for data users when it comes to how to share sensitive data.
Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director for Middle East, Africa & South Asia at Western Digital concluded: "In today’s business environment, increased security risks, employee behaviour and the sheer volume of data produced, can make it difficult for organisations to stay on top of security and storage challenges. As technology advances, employees and employers are looking for ways to store and share sensitive data more securely. The combination of the right infrastructure, integrated with encryption platforms, to store and share sensitive data, and the education of employees of the threats they may be exposing their organisation to will go a long way to improving the threat landscape and reducing risk."
The full report on the research findings is available here (opens in new tab).