With the introduction of the GDPR several years ago, Europe is home to the countries with the strongest data privacy laws. But how does that translate to how prepared European companies are when it comes to data privacy, security, and protection?\n\nThe 2023 State of SaaS Data Security and Protection in Europe report, commissioned by Own and AWS, delves deep into the current landscape of data security and protection across the continent. The research surveyed 1053 IT leaders responsible for data security and protection across the UK, France, Germany, Nordics, Benelux and Italy. In it we identified current attitudes and challenges to data protection and security, confidence in adhering to compliance regulations, approaches to data security and cyber-attack prevention, and future investment priorities.\n\nBelow, we share some of this research's most interesting findings and takeaways.\n\nCurrent attitudes and challenges\n\nAmong organisations surveyed, protecting data and systems from cyberattacks has emerged as the top overall IT priority. Moreover, adopting cloud technologies for core business applications has gained significance, reflecting the changing IT landscape. However, many organisations have not implemented sufficient preventative measures despite heightened concerns about cyberattacks and data loss. This gap in data security readiness is a concern, with 75% of respondents worried about compliance standards and a lack of employee awareness regarding data security risks. Data loss remains a substantial concern, with financial costs, customer experience disruption, and brand\/reputational damage topping the list of worries. Almost 60% of organisations have experienced some form of data loss in the last two years, with half encountering data loss more than once.\n\nApproaches to compliance\n\nWhile many organisations express confidence in meeting compliance regulations, challenges persist, particularly in employee awareness and applying protection measures. GDPR stands out as the most important and followed regulation. To address these challenges, organisations are focusing on compliance-related investments, researching third-party solutions, and developing internal resources. Building stronger relationships between legal teams and security staff is also seen as crucial.\n\nData protection and cyberattack prevention\n\nMost organisations have reviewed their data security policies in the last year, primarily triggered by cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are perceived as the greatest threat to SaaS data security in the next year, with compliance with data security legislation following closely behind. Despite the looming threat of data loss, many organisations lack comprehensive backup strategies, with only 44% having such measures in place. A staggering 60% have experienced data loss in the past two years, and only two-thirds said they could restore all lost data.\n\nFuture IT priorities\n\nThe report highlights the expected increase in cloud usage in the future, driven by the need to improve data security, hybrid working, and enhanced customer service. While nearly half of organisations expect data backup to become easier, digital transformation remains the top strategic priority for most. Additionally, 44% said the need to improve data security was their biggest driver to move to the cloud, with an increase in hybrid working and the need to serve customers better, following closely behind at 42% and 40%, respectively.\n\nConclusions and takeaways\n\nThe report is a wake-up call for organisations to prioritise data protection in an evolving digital world. Waiting for a cyberattack or data breach is risky, and investments in data security can prevent severe consequences. The potential costs and reputational damage of data loss cannot be underestimated.\n\nClick here to read the full report, which includes specific findings by country and strategies to implement proactive behaviours to protect your data.