UK IT and security professionals believe that external attacks have increased significantly in the past 12 months, while more than half have reported an increased risk of internal data breaches.

According to a survey of 560 UK staff by Check Point, 64 per cent of respondents said that external attacks had increased significantly in the past 12 months, while 57 per cent reported an increased risk of internal data breaches, particularly from the growing use of web and social media applications.

Tom Davison, UK technical director for Check Point, said:  “Even though organisations are concerned about securing their networks, and are deploying more products to deal with a growing range of threats, external attacks and internal incidents continue to increase; the complexity of networks, applications and security products is making it harder for IT teams to manage their security estates. This is leading to vulnerabilities not being addressed, and employees inadvertently causing breaches.

“When the security solutions themselves are creating a risk, it's vital that organisations rethink their approach to protecting their networks and data.  They need to simplify and consolidate security management, and make it easier to establish security policies and practices that employees can easily follow, to curb the risk of attacks and breaches.”

Check Point's survey found that the most popular measures aimed at reducing the risk of internal breaches were: setting up employee awareness programmes (53 per cent of respondents); use of data encryption on sensitive documents (47 per cent); locking down USB ports on PCs (39 per cent); restricting employees' use of social media and instant messaging (31 per cent); and deploying data leak prevention solutions (24 per cent).

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said that they had clearly-defined security policies for staff concerning data handling.