The latest Ponemon Institute report concludes that staff negligence or maliciousness is the root cause of most data breaches. The study’s key take-away is that more than 78 per cent of respondents blame employee behaviour – both intentional and accidental – for at least one data breach within their organisations over the past two years.

The reality in most companies is that – as the report states – it is the human element that is the weakest link in the security chain. And as the study also found, almost 70 per cent of the 700-plus firms surveyed agree that their organisation’s current security activities are not enough to stop a targeted attack or hacker attempt on their systems.

What this tells us is that any security technology deployed needs to be flexible enough to adapt to a wide number of situations, as well as being strong enough to quickly – and automatically stop any activities that could cause a data breach.

The best security technology that meets these requirements needs to support a least privilege framework, with privileges assigned directly to the applications that require them. The most important thing to realise here is that regardless of your operating environment – be it physical, virtual or cloud – the challenge to retain control and manage application privileges remains a constant.

And this is where Windows privilege management enters the frame, as the technology allows IT professionals to centrally manage their application privileges across all delivery mechanisms. As well as removing admin rights from the security equation, the technology also significantly reduces the risks from employee negligence, which is also one of the key findings of this latest Ponemon report.

In fact, Windows privilege management can stop the execution of unauthorised applications and centrally manages policies through Active Directory group policy, whilst at the same time still allowing the flexibility to set up simple policies for on-going management and configuration.

This technology allows IT security managers to monitor and audit all their privileged activity, as well as centralise their reporting based on standard Microsoft or McAfee systems. And when viewed against the backdrop of the triumvirate of primary data breach causes – mobile data breaching devices (35 per cent), third-party mistakes (32 per cent) and system glitches (29 per cent) – you begin to realise that the employee is always going to be the weakest link in the security chain.

Small wonder then, that this report recommends the use of governance and technology solutions that are both efficient and cost effective – such as email-based data loss prevention, email encryption and secure file sharing – and the mandate that those users who are given privileged user status are knowledgeable about the risks.

The use of privilege management technology can help to prevent the execution of unauthorised applications, as well as supporting the setting up of simple policies for on-going monitoring – and auditing – of all privileged activity.