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Ponemon-Symantec Report: Compliance Is Biggest Encryption Driver

Regulatory compliance has moved up as the primary driver for encryption in the United States, according to a Ponemon Institute-Symantec report, moving ahead of data breach mitigation. The fifth annual U.S. Enterprise Encryption Trends report also reported a rise in the number of organizations that have experienced more than five breaches.

"The fact that this category increased so much suggests that something in the environment convinces organizations this something they have to do," said Ponemon. "I think it's a regulatory issue, coupled with data breaches, that has cause management to focus on encryption."

Most of the organizations - 84 percent -- said they have either fully implemented or were in the process of implementing encryption technology. The most prevalent use case is server encryption, but the fastest-growing and second most implemented is whole disk encryption, underscoring a growing interest in laptop encryption. The previous surveys were conducted with PGP Corp., prior to its acquisition by Symantec in April.

More revealing than changes from last year is the upward trend in encryption in the years covered by the surveys. For example, compliance was cited in only 44 percent of the responses in 2006, 25 points below the 2010 figure. Two-thirds of the organizations said they have an overall encryption strategy, nearly double the percentage reported five years ago. Thirty-eight percent the organizations see encryption as a tool to improve brands, reputation and customer confidence, more than double the number over 2006. 

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