76% of organizations suffered downtime and data loss in 2021

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Acronis has released its annual Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2022 timed to this year’s World Backup Day. The report which surveyed over 6,200 IT users and IT managers from small businesses to enterprises across 22 countries,  including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), exposes some of the most critical shortcomings appearing in cyber protection practices today, examines why they’re appearing, and offers guidance on how they can be fixed.

One of our key findings last year was that 80% of organizations ran as many as 10 solutions simultaneously for data protection and cybersecurity — yet more than half of them suffered downtime because of data loss. According to the report findings, the UAE performed dismally with 18% of the organizations claiming to use between 11-15 different solutions while a further 8% of companies use over 15 solutions simultaneously. Clearly, more solutions do not translate into more protection.

This year, we see that trend getting worse: while 78% of organizations globally run as many as 10 different solutions, 76% of organizations experienced downtime due to data loss — a 25% increase from 2021. This downtime stemmed from a number of sources, including system crashes (52%), human error (42%), cyberattacks (36%), and insider attacks (20%).

As a result, 61% of global organizations’ IT teams now report a preference for integrated solutions that replace their complicated stacks of cybersecurity and data protection tools with a single, unified console.

“As the entire world is increasingly at risk from different types of attacks, accelerating to universal all-in-one solutions is the only way to achieve truly complete cyber protection. And that’s precisely the problem Acronis has set out to solve,” says Candid Wuest, Acronis V.P. of Cyber Protection Research. “Attackers don’t discriminate when it comes to means or targets, so strong and reliable security is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.”

Overconfidence as a trend: IT teams are overselling their readiness

The report also unearthed another worrying trend that is responsible for cyberdefenses lowering and increasing IT security budgets:

  • 71% and 70% of Saudi Arabia and the UAE companies respectively are looking to replace their complicated stacks of cybersecurity and data protection tools with a single, unified console.
  • 70% of organizations’ IT managers claim to have automated patch management. However, based on any reliable industry research, only a handful of companies follow the 72-hour “golden time” for patch management.
  • 82% also claim to have ransomware protection and remediation. Yet, successful attacks occur weekly and the size of ransom demands grows each year.
  • 20% claimed to be testing backup restoration weekly. Again, not consistent with any other industry-issued data.

It seems that IT managers are trying to appear better prepared than they are; but that is, in turn, misleading their managers, boards of directors, industry analysts, and customers.

However, if the overwhelming majority of IT managers indeed have these solutions, they aren’t using them right: they have simply stocked their IT stacks with all of the recommended cybersecurity technologies — spending more money in vain.

The report findings prove that organizations are spending more on IT security this year, but when compared to their overall IT budget, it becomes clear – organizations are still treating cyber protection as a “nice-to-have”, not as a “must-have”:

  • Half of the organizations globally allocate less than 10% of their overall IT budget on IT security.
  • Only 23% of organizations globally are investing over 15% of their overall IT budget in security — even despite the increasingly threatening cyber landscape.

Pandemic-driven spike in awareness proves temporary

Frequent backups that were fuelled by the shift to remote work are over: a third of IT managers only back up weekly, while another 25% back up monthly. The use of backup best practices is declining across the board — only 15% of organizations’ IT teams adhere to them. In the UAE, only 33% of companies are still using local storage for backup.

Same as last year, 10% of IT managers still aren’t sure if their company is subject to any data privacy regulations — proving that IT managers, like IT users, get stuck in their ways. In the UAE, only 15% of internal IT teams are unsure if their companies are subject to data privacy regulations.

According to our research, 86% of organizations globally are also concerned about the threat of increasing politically-driven cyberattacks caused by the worsening geopolitical climate — but their concern does not translate into improvements to their cyber protection.

The bottom line, the outdated approaches that professional IT teams have relied on for years are now actively failing them. A comprehensive, easy-to-follow approach is essential to achieving a more reliable, holistic protection for data, applications, and systems – one that combines cybersecurity, data protection, and management into one solution.

Users show concern over cyberthreats, but backup habits remain unchanged

Only one in ten users back up daily, while 34% of users back up on a monthly basis — a staggering 41% of users back up rarely or never. Still, 72% of users had to recover from backup at least once in the past year (33% — more than once). Meaning that some of the users who chose not to back up have permanently lost their data:

  • 43% of users update a week or more after an update release — of those, 7% take more than a month to perform these recommended updates. A decline in response time compared to 2021.
  • While only 12% of users are following the recommended hybrid model of cloud and local backup storage, users have doubled down on cloud backup: for 4 years, we saw local backups shrinking from 62% in 2019 to 33% in 2022 — at the same time cloud backups jumped from 28% to 54%.
  • 66% of users would not know or be able to tell if their data had been modified.
  • 43% of users are not sure if their anti-malware solutions could protect against new and emerging cyber threats.
  • 79% of IT users in the UAE reported permanently losing data from a computer or mobile device in the last year. Data was lost due to accidental deletions, app or system crashes, malware attacks, and other common causes

What we see here is a massive gap in how organizations and individuals approach cyber protection in theory — and in practice. Acronis provides a number of solutions that are able to bridge that gap — among them Acronis Cyber Protect, used by over 20,000 service providers to protect more than 750,000 businesses.

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