Being able to take advantage of predictive analytics tools is likely to be one of the best ways in which organizations can protect their business from previously unknown threats to their operations.

This is according to a new study by Dell, which revealed that despite the dangers enterprises are facing in the current fast-moving environment, most companies still take a reactive approach to combating security issues, which could leave them exposed to a range of problems.

Even though three-quarters of businesses have experienced a security breach in the past 12 months, just 18 percent stated they had made the use of predictive tools to spot unknown threats a priority.

Predictive and real-time analytics solutions may be able to assist with this by identifying trends within a company or wider industry that should raise red flags. IT may also be particularly useful for firms such as financial services and retail businesses, who may be able to use the technology to highlight fraudulent transactions and unusual activity that can signify fraud or an attempt to breach a company's defences.

Dell's survey found 76 percent of IT leaders around the word – and 93 percent in the US – agreed that in order to remain safe in today's landscape, firms must also protect themselves from threats inside its perimeter, as well as external dangers.

"This requires not only a comprehensive set of solutions that protects from the inside out and the outside in, but one that also connects these capabilities to provide deeper insights and stronger predictive analytics so that strategic action can be taken quickly," the company said. 

The consequences of not having such solutions in place could be severe. Despite the fact that 83 percent of companies studied reported their current security processes had been able to spot threats, actual detection typically takes eight hours to occur – by which time the damage may well have been done.

As security breaches cost US organizations an estimated $25.8 billion annually, failing to effectively recognize and prioritize the next big wave of risk to IT security from unknown threats could cost firms dear.