More than half of IT security believe employees have little or no awareness about data protection or corporate security policies and cite identity awareness as a security priority for the next year.

According to research by Check Point and the Ponemon Institute, 53 per cent of IT administrators believe that data protection or corporate security policies awareness is a great concern, while 52 per cent said that the ability to manage policies by user is key to enforcing better security.

The survey of over 450 IT administrators in the UK and over 2,400 worldwide, in the US, France, Germany and Japan, showed that businesses struggle with a growing set of security priorities and limited employee awareness about corporate policies.

Other security challenges named by respondents were industry or government compliance mandates (22 per cent), preventing data loss by employees (20 per cent) and enforcing security policies (13 per cent).

Nick Lowe, head of Western Europe sales at Check Point, said: “To improve security in this day and age, organisations need to get a better understanding of their current environments and prioritise their short and long term initiatives.

“By educating end-users and enforcing security policies with a holistic view of the organisation, companies can minimise the complexities associated with security and compliance.”

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said: “Companies are constantly facing new and costly security risks from both internal and external sources that can jeopardise the business. Our research has shown that one cyber attack can range anywhere from $237,000 to $52 million.

“However, employees can play a big role in being a first line of defence, helping their company enforce stronger security measures and promoting more user awareness within the organisation.”