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Are we losing the battle for security in the cloud?


Article Type: Analysis          Published: 11-2014         Views: 1651      

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More than 40% of corporate data stored in the cloud is not managed by corporate IT functions, according to a new research study. Cloud Hosting magazine investigates the implications.

A majority of IT organisations are kept in the dark when it comes to protecting corporate data in the cloud, putting confidential and sensitive information at risk. This is just one of the findings of a recent Ponemon Institute study commissioned by SafeNet, Inc. The study, titled "The Challenges of Cloud Information Governance: A Global Data Security Study," surveyed more than 1,800 IT and IT security professionals worldwide.

Among the key findings, the research indicates that while organisations are increasingly using cloud computing resources, IT staff are having trouble controlling the management and security of data in the cloud. The survey found that only 38 per cent of organisations have clearly defined roles and accountability for safeguarding confidential or sensitive information in the cloud. Adding to the confusion, 44 per cent of corporate data stored in cloud environments is not managed or controlled by the IT department. And more than two-thirds of respondents say it is more difficult to protect sensitive data in the cloud using conventional security practices.

"The findings reveal that global organisations are struggling to secure data in the cloud due to the lack of critical governance and security practices in place," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "To create a more secure cloud environment, organisations can begin with simple steps such as including IT security in establishing security policies and procedures; increasing visibility into the use of cloud applications, platforms, and infrastructure; and protecting data with encryption and stronger access controls, such as multi-factor authentication."

AS CLOUD POPULARITY GROWS, SO DOES RISK
Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of IT professionals confirmed that cloud computing is very important today, and more than three quarters (78 per cent) believe it will be over the next two years. The respondents also estimate that 33 per cent of their organisations' total IT and data processing requirements are met with cloud resources today, and that is expected to increase to an average of 41 per cent within two years.

However, the majority of respondents (70 per cent) agree that it is more complex to manage privacy and data protection regulations in a cloud environment, and they also agree that the types of corporate data stored in the cloud, such as emails, and consumer, customer, and payment information, are the types of data most at risk.

SHADOW IT AND THE NEED FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
On average, half of all cloud services are deployed by departments other than corporate IT, and an average of 44 per cent of corporate data stored in the cloud environment is not managed or controlled by the IT department. As a result, only 19 per cent of respondents are very confident that they know about all cloud computing applications, platforms, or infrastructure services in use in their organisations today.

Along with this lack of control over the sourcing of cloud services, views on who is actually accountable for cloud data security are mixed. Thirty five per cent of respondents say it is a shared responsibility between the cloud user and the cloud provider while 33 per cent say it is the responsibility of the cloud user and 32 per cent say it is the responsibility of the cloud provider.

ALTERNATIVES TO CONVENTIONAL SECURITY MEASURES
More than two-thirds (71 per cent) of respondents say it is more difficult to protect sensitive data in the cloud using conventional security practices, and nearly half (48 per cent) say it's more difficult to control or restrict end-user access to cloud data. As a result, more than one-third (34 per cent) of IT professionals surveyed say their organisations already have a policy in place that requires the use of security safeguards such as encryption as a condition for using certain cloud computing resources. Seventy-one per cent of respondents say the ability to encrypt or tokenise sensitive or confidential data is important, and 79 per cent say it will become more important over the next two years.



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