The biggest users of data encryption for security are companies in the financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals and technology and software industries, according to a new report by the Ponemon Institute.

The study, sponsored by security company Thales, is part of an annual survey of more than 5,000 individuals covering 14 industry sectors and 11 countries. It focuses on how encryption is being used in conjunction with business applications in order to protect data.

Companies reporting extensive use of encryption rose 7% from the previous year to a total of 41%, the largest increase in the 11-year history of the report. Databases, Internet communications and laptop hard drives consistently top the list of areas where encryption is most frequently used.

Performance and latency are the most critical features of encryption applications, according to the report, reflecting the need to ensure that the technology does not interfere with business operations.

“In the 11 years the core survey has been conducted, there has been a steady increase in the use of encryption technology, with the highest increase ever in this year’s results,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

“Along with that increase we’ve seen the rise of new challenges in the areas of encryption key management, data discovery, and cloud-based data storage,” Ponemon said. “The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of both encryption and key management across a wide range of industries and core enterprise applications.”

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