LONDON – December 3, 2015 – Palo Alto Networks® (NYSE: PANW), the next-generation security company, today announced the findings of a new survey into management and executive attitudes towards cybersecurity across Europe. This noted that an alarming number of senior employees consciously expose their organizations to cybersecurity threats, largely due to frustration with workplace policies and a poor understanding of cybersecurity threats, according to new research released today.
Commissioned by Palo Alto Networks, the research findings show the actions of decision-makers undermine the $35.53 billion  European organizations are predicted to spend on cybersecurity by 2019. The survey found that 27 percent of respondents admit to exposing their company to a potential cybersecurity threat with 14 percent saying they knew they were doing so at the time.
Balancing security with functionality
While some actions could be tracked back to one in four claiming not to understand fully what defines an online cybersecurity risk, almost every respondent (96%) acknowledged cybersecurity should be a priority for their business.
The prevailing reason employees circumvent their companies’ policies is to use a more efficient tool or service than that used by the organisation, or that such tools were considered the best in the market. These actions reflect 17 percent saying their company’s cybersecurity policy is frustrating and prevents access to tools and sites that would enable better job performance. Employee education is essential in ensuring that the rationale behind the policy is clear.
Senior staff circumventing security
Survey results indicate that neither department nor seniority precludes employees from carrying out questionable actions or having misinformed views. One in ten respondents caught executives ignoring company guidelines; and when asked directly, one in four C-level respondents admitted to knowingly exposing their company to a potential threat.
Responsibility and accountability
The research found one in five (18%) management-level employees don’t feel they have a personal role to play in their company’s cybersecurity efforts; and that, if a successful attack were carried out, only one in five (21%) believe the employee responsible for the breach would be held accountable – the majority (40%) believe IT would be held to blame.
- Greg Day, vice president and regional chief security officer, EMEA, at Palo Alto Networks
Additional findings from the research
Recommendations for European organizations
Palo Alto Networks recommends that organizations take the following steps to bolster their computing environments against cyberattacks:
The survey was conducted online among 765 business decision-makers in companies with 1,000+ employees in the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium by Redshift Research in October 2015.
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Senior Manager, EMEA Public Relations and Analyst Relations
Palo Alto Networks
+44 (0)7887 522919
 Based on findings from MicroMarketMonitor.