Kathy Gibson reports – A massive 91% of IT leaders say that security is important to their business, a pointer to how vulnerabilities can cripple innovation.

This is among the findings of the State of Cybersecurity in South Africa study conducted for Dell and Intel by World Wide Worx.

Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, says the study finds that the security measures most companies have in place are led by VPN access to internal systems and cloud platform managed security – indicating the zero trust is important, although there are still gaps in the security posture.

Most companies do regularly upgrades to the endpoint hardware, again with some gaps.

When it comes to cloud, most of these services are encrypted in transit (95%), with 54% also encrypting at rest.

The research highlights that companies expect to be hit with cybersecurity incidents, demonstrated by the number of organisations that have disaster management and backup in place (99%).

Covid-19, ransomware attacks, riots and even climate change can all cause disaster scenarios and companies have to have protection in place.

Half of respondents say that a quarter of their staff work remotely regularly.

“This opens organisations to massive threats and challenges,” Goldstuck says,

There are a number of difficulties with implementing security measures, with 51% saying that costs exceed budgeting forecast – so almost half of big companies are not budgeting for their security needs, or are caught off-guard.

Another 33% respond that security measure require too much employees training; and 31% say it is inconvenient to manage.

The biggest concern about remote working and endpoint security is missing, lost of stolen devices (55%), followed by non-company users accessing company data (35%).

Most companies believe their existing data protection methods are sufficient to cope with malware (88%).

Almost half of companies say they have seen more threats that before, and 42% have seen more ransomware threats than in the past.

The way they are mitigating malware and ransomware is by antivirus software to detect and remove threats (71%) and consulting an IT expert (27%) – usually after a breach.

Emerging technologies that pose a risk to data protection are cloud native applications (61%), internet of things (53%), blockchain (35%), edge computing (30%), machine learning (26%), artificial intelligence (24%).

A massive 94% of respondents believe they could achieve more of their business objectives in a more secure cybersecurity environment.

And 97% believe employees are more productive when they think their work data is protected.

Importantly, 98% think their employees can be more innovative hen they know there is a strong security protocol in place.

“You don’t get much more unanimous than this,” Goldstuck says. “Once you have that secure culture in the company, the innovators can focus on what they do best, which is innovations.

“So security is not an investment for its own sake: it is a massive benefit for business.”