Security pros say their companies invest in the wrong technologies

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed by SafeNet said they expect to suffer a data breach in the next three years

More than a third of security professionals say their security spending is being deployed on the wrong technologies, according to a survey released Tuesday by SafeNet, a data protection company.

Despite continued investments in network perimeter defenses, 35% of 230 security professionals in the United States said they weren't confident they were using the right technologies to secure high-value data, according to the survey by the Belcamp, Md. firm.

That finding surprised SafeNet's Chief Strategy Officer Tsion Gonen. "They're telling us in the same sentence, 'We know it's not working, we think we will be breached, but we're going to continue to do a lot of the same,'" he said in an interview.

"That's the definition of insanity," he said. "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

[See also: The new perimeter.]

While investing to shore up their perimeter defenses, a majority of those surveyed predicted dire consequences if their defenses are penetrated. More than half (59%) said their data would not be safe once the perimeters were breached, according to the study.

Moreover, almost two-thirds (65%) said they expect to suffer a data breach in the next three years.

Nevertheless, fully 74% believe their perimeter defenses are effective in keeping unauthorized users from reaching their data, though 31% acknowledged that those defenses had been breached in the past.

Although an overwhelming 95% of the security pros revealed that they either maintained or increased spending on perimeter security, more than half felt that their organizations weren't spending enough on security.

SafeNet researchers also found skepticism about the security industry's ability to protect them from network marauders. Only 19% were confident in the industry's ability to protect their organizations from data breaches -- and nearly half (49%) were unconvinced that the industry could thwart the threats now facing them.

Many organizations are in a state of denial over current cyber threats, Gonen said. "When will this denial stage end?" he asked. "I think it's going to end in a painful manner for many organizations."

Perimeter defenses could protect data well in the days of limited access to that data, but that's not the case any more, he said. "Everybody has access and data is everywhere -- in the cloud, on a laptop, on a phone."

"This makes life for people after access to that data much easier because the concept of a perimeter is dissolving altogether," he said. "I'm not saying it's dead, but it's not doing really well."

Organizations should accept that they'll be breached and protect their data based on that assumption, he said. "It's easy to get into a bank," he said. "What's hard is getting to the money, because it's in a safe."

Not everyone agrees with Gonen's analysis. "Better perimeter solutions are needed that are effective and workable," George Tubin, a senior security strategist with Trusteer, a Boston-based cyber security company said in an interview.

"That's the direction we need to go instead of throwing up our hands and saying, 'Let's figure out what to do after the breaches happen because we can't stop them,'" he said.

The new perimeter is made up of the endpoints of the network, he added. "That's where the battleground is," he said. "You have to beat the criminals there and not allow them to compromise that device."

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