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Leaked information from databases is becoming an increasingly serious concern, yet when it comes to plugging the holes many organisations are running so many databases they hardly know where to start.

Only six in ten of 600+ senior IT execs quizzed in a recent survey by the Ponemon Institute said they monitor their databases for suspicious activity. The other four in ten said they either don't monitor or don't know for sure whether they check or not. More than half those who have failed to implement a monitoring regime run 500 or more databases, a number that's growing and adding to the confusion.

More than 150 million data records have been exposed in the past two years, many through lax database security. Customer data represents the most common data type contained within databases, with 78 per cent saying databases are either critical or important to their business.

IT departments recognise the problem and the need to keep tabs on sensitive data, even though many are struggling to cope. Application Security, which sponsored the survey, said the study highlights the gap between corporate policy and data security realities on the ground.

Organisations are wrestling with how to protect data from misuse by external hackers and malicious insiders, while making data more readily available in order to drive business objectives. More than half (57 per cent) rate inadequate protection against malicious insiders as a major headache, with a similar number (55 per cent) citing "data loss" by internal entities as a concern.

Although the survey focused on large organisations, addressing changes in regulatory compliance isn't on the 2007 IT agenda for two in five (40 per cent) of the respondents.

More details of the survey can be found in a Ponemon/Application Security white paper here. ®

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