This is the third of a series of three posts on a Ciena-sponsored VansonBourne survey on enterprise connectivity in Western Europe. Mervyn Kelly is Ciena's Director of Field Marketing for the EMEA region. Other posts:

Today’s technology-intensive environment relies on communications networks to deliver information safely among individuals and organisations. Yet, as technology has become more complex, a recently released survey of over 400 IT decision makers amongst enterprises in Western Europe shows that threats against keeping information safe have also become more frequent, complex and pervasive. The survey, sponsored by Ciena, revealed that more than one-third of surveyed enterprises (36%) have experienced an increase in the frequency of network and data security-related incidents in the last 18 months.

The country most affected by the trend of increased security-related incidents is France, where nearly half (49%) of enterprises have noticed an increase in security threats; followed by Germany (40%), the UK (28%) and the Netherlands (25%). The most affected sector is utilities with over half of companies (54%) having mentioned an increase.

In my opinion, these results show that enterprises now need a comprehensive security approach to protect themselves from increasing security risks. This approach should find the right balance between three key elements: server security, at-rest encryption and in-flight encryption.

Currently, encryption of corporate devices and data at the application layer are the most popular encryption methods and are deployed by about half of surveyed organisations (53% and 48% respectively), while only approximately one-third of surveyed enterprises (36%) deploy in-flight encryption on the WAN links between sites and data centres. The adoption of in-flight encryption does vary by country, Germany is leading the way when it comes to in-flight WAN encryption, with about half (49%) of surveyed companies stating that they use in-flight encryption on WAN data link between sites or data centres. In contrast, in the Netherlands and France about a third of enterprises (36 and 33% respectively) have adopted in-flight encryption, and in the UK only about a quarter (24%).

Enterprises are underestimating the value of in-flight encryption; securing information stored in devices whilst running an unsecured network is a bit like locking all the windows in a house, but leaving the front door open. This view may be changing though, as more enterprises plan to start adopting the use of in-flight encryption in their networks. The Netherlands and Germany are expected to be the leaders of this effort in the near future. From the enterprises in these countries that are not currently deploying in-flight encryption, approximately one-third plan to adopt the method for the first time (36% and 31% respectively). When broken down by sector, transport (40%), finance (33%) and utility organisations (22%) are expected to lead the adoption of in-flight encryption.

The truth is, today’s network infrastructure is asked to do more than ever, whether supporting time-critical financial transactions, sensitive healthcare record storage, secure government communications, or simply wireless voice connections --- and all of this in an environment of increasing threats. So enterprises will have to continue to look to solutions that ensure the information travelling across their networks is secure, while still meeting the ever increasing demands on their network.

Read more in our Application Note: Wire-Speed Encryption Solution

Notes on the survey: 
The research project surveyed 400 senior IT decision makers, including an equal number of participants from the United Kingdom, Germany, France and The Netherlands. 46% of the companies surveyed have more than 3,000 employees, 44% have between 1,000 and 3,000 employees, and 10% between 500 and 1,000.  The online survey was conducted by VansonBourne in December 2012.