The study by Trend Micro found that 97 per cent of organisations from the UK, France, Germany and Benelux (the states of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) believe that virtualisation has made their IT infrastructure more complex, with 87 per cent struggling to keep their systems secure.
Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) admitted virtualised environments introduce increased risks and require new security measures.
Some 94 per cent of UK respondents confessed to struggling to keep their systems secure, compared to 88 per cent in France, 85 per cent in Germany and 83 per cent in Benelux. In the UK, Germany and Benelux, a lack of resources was cited as the main contributor, while French organisations pointed to a lack of awareness around security threats.
The research found demand from across the UK, France and Germany for industry-wide virtual security guidelines to be put in place to help organisations understand best practice.
Michael Darlington, technical director at Trend Micro, said it was “alarming” that such a high number of European businesses are struggling to keep their virtual systems secure.
He added: “It’s promising that security professionals recognise the problem and are demanding investment in up-skilling to better equip them to manage new, complex IT infrastructures.
“Ultimately the responsibility lies with organisations to provide their staff with the training and support necessary to ensure business data is safe.
“Without this investment, we will see businesses continue to struggle to secure their virtual networks, leaving themselves open to the risk of cyber-attacks.”
A need for development in IT security was showed by the fact that 54 per cent of organisations in France, Germany and the UK admitted they deployed the same security tools in a virtualised environment as they did in a physical environment.
“Virtualisation security is still being viewed as an afterthought as businesses ‘make do’ with the same security policies, process and tools they would use in a physical environment,” said Darlington.
“This approach is leaving organisations open to the risk of cyber-attack as they fail to realise that a new security mind-set is required. “
Separate research by Trend Micro, conducted in collaboration with Vanson Bourne, recently found that one in four British organisations don’t have the confidence or knowledge to manage virtual security deployments.