The 2023 Thales Data Threat Report has been released, providing an annual report on the latest data security threats, trends and emerging topics based on a survey of nearly 3000 IT and security professionals in 18 countries.
Respondents identified their cloud assets as the biggest targets for cyber attacks. Over a quarter (28 percent) said SaaS apps and cloud-based storage were the biggest targets, followed by cloud-hosted applications (26 percent) and cloud infrastructure management (25 percent). The increase in cloud exploitation and attacks is directly due to the increase in workloads moving to the cloud as 75 percent of respondents said 40 percent of data stored in the cloud is now classified as sensitive compared to 49 percent of respondents in 2022.
Human error and the impact of ransomware
Simple human error, misconfiguration, or other mistakes can accidentally lead to breaches – and respondents identified this as the leading cause of cloud data breaches. For those organizations that have suffered a data breach in the past 12 months, misconfiguration or human error was the primary cause identified by 55 percent of respondents. This was followed by the exploitation of a known vulnerability (21 percent), and of a zero day / previously unknown vulnerability (13 percent). The report finds that identity and access management (IAM) is the best defence, with 28 percent of respondents identifying it as the most effective tool to mitigate these risks.
Meanwhile, the severity of ransomware attacks appears to be declining, with 35 percent of 2023 respondents reporting that ransomware had a significant impact compared to 44 percent of respondents reporting similar levels of impact in 2022. Spend is moving in the right direction too, with 61 percent reporting they would shift or add a budget for ransomware tools to prevent future attacks – up from 57 percent in 2022 – yet organizational responses to ransomware remain inconsistent. Only 49 percent of enterprises reported having a formal response ransomware plan, while 67 percent still report data loss from ransomware attacks.
Addressing the challenges of digital sovereignty
Digital sovereignty is becoming more top of mind for data privacy and security teams. Overall, the report found that data sovereignty remains both a short- and long-term challenge for enterprises. 83 percent expressed concerns over data sovereignty, and 55 percent agreed that data privacy and compliance in the cloud has become more difficult, likely due to emergence of requirements around digital sovereignty.
Emerging threats from quantum computers that could attack classical encryption schemes are also a cause for concern for organizations. The report found that Harvest Now, Decrypt Later (HNDL) and future network decryption were the greatest security concerns from quantum computing – with 62 percent and 55 percent reporting concerns respectively. While post quantum cryptography (PQC) has emerged as a discipline to counter these threats, the report found that 62 percent of organizations have five or more key management systems, presenting a challenge for PQC and crypto agility.