Serious data breaches are increasingly commonplace in many organisations, new research has found, with more than six out of ten IT professionals (61 per cent) having experienced a breach at their current employer.

This is according to a new study by McAfee, which revealed it is still a serious challenge for many businesses to protect their data assets from hackers. 

The firm noted more criminals are targeting valuable intellectual property, which can cause serious damage to a firm's reputation, as well as increasing their financial liability. Overall, Nearly three-quarters of all breaches require public disclosure, which further puts brand reputation at risk.

Intellectual property now ties with personally identifiable information (PII) as the categories of data breach with the biggest potential impact, with 43 per cent of firms around the world citing each of these as their biggest issues. 

However, in Europe, PII was still regarded as a slightly more important issue, which McAfee suggested is a result of the GDPR rules that came into force in 2018.

Candace Worley, vice-president and chief technical strategist at McAfee, said the threats faced by businesses have evolved, and are becoming ever-more sophisticated.

She added: "Organisations need to augment security measures by implementing a culture of security and emphasising that all employees are part of an organisation's security posture, not just the IT team." 

The research also revealed there are disagreements about who should be held accountable for data breaches. While IT is often regarded as being responsible for data breaches, with 52 per cent of respondents saying this department is at fault for most breaches, 29 per cent of professionals pointed the finger at business operations as being most likely to be involved.

What's more, 55 per cent of IT professionals said C-level executives should lose their job if a breach is serious enough. However, almost two-thirds of these professional (61 per cent) also stated that C-level executives they work with expect more lenient security policies for themselves.

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