Do you trust the cloud?

BT Global Services
By Phil Rodrigues, Vice President, BT Security, AMEA
Wednesday, 12 August, 2015

Do you trust the cloud?

The majority of Australia’s IT decision-makers view the security of cloud-based services as a major concern.

Data security and trust in cloud-based services are rapidly growing concerns for IT decision-makers within large organisations in Australia and worldwide. BT included Australia in a global study that explored the attitudes towards cloud-based services of several hundred IT decision-makers from enterprise organisations in 11 countries around the world.

Results indicated 84% of Australia’s IT decision-makers view the security of cloud-based services as a major concern and in some instances this concern serves as a barrier to adoption.

The adoption of cloud services is still increasing rapidly across the globe. IDC predicted the Australian market for public cloud services will grow at a compound annual rate of 24.7% to reach approximately $2.6 billion in 2017. Organisations are looking to reap the numerous potential benefits such as scalability, fast deployment and ubiquitous network access.

Consumer vs enterprise

Adding further pressure for CIOs is the need to migrate to new technology, which is fuelling the uptake of consumer cloud solutions amongst enterprise organisations.

The findings of the study have also exposed an interesting paradox whereby decision-makers are allowing short-term cost perceptions to drive their buying decisions despite their concern about the security implications of using public cloud services.

Despite only 48% of respondents in Australia believing mass market ‘consumer’ services will be as effective as those designed specifically for enterprises, 61% have adopted the public cloud options.

An extra consideration for CIOs is their willingness to trust a third party, which forms a concern for 70% of Australian IT decision-makers. It is important to take special measures when using the cloud to transmit or store information, such as knowing which cloud services host data in one country and save it in another and protecting that data.

Sixty two per cent of respondents in Australia are under the impression that all cloud services are inherently insecure. Although this is not the case, 53% of the responding IT companies had already experienced a data breach incident where their cloud service provider was partly at fault.

Global perspective

Interestingly, most of the feedback from Australian participants rated higher than the study’s worldwide results. Globally, 76% of IT decision-makers claimed data security is their main concern in regards to the use of cloud-based services.

Contrastingly, although 84% of Australian IT decision-makers expressed concern about the security of cloud-based services, 40% of them claimed this caused significant anxiety while 49% of respondents across the world admitted to experiencing extreme anxiety.

This is a substantial 10% increase from previous research that surveyed IT decision-makers across multiple countries in 2012.

Australian IT decision-makers’ choice to deploy mass market services over enterprise options despite belief that the public cloud services will be just as effective is mirrored worldwide.

Fifty per cent of global respondents have deployed these services although only 44% believe consumer services are just as effective as the enterprise designs.

Forty one per cent of global respondents are under the impression that all cloud services are inherently insecure with only 26% of those surveyed having suffered a data breach incident where their cloud service provider was partly at fault.

Further, while 48% of IT decision-makers worldwide have the impression that enterprise cloud applications and services are too expensive, 60% of Australians made the same claim.

Taking ownership

It is vital for organisations to undertake a thorough risk analysis before opting for mass market cloud services as every organisation faces its own variety of risks. Enterprise cloud applications and services are designed to help businesses realise possibilities in the cloud while substantially decreasing risk.

Enlisting a security specialist can help make the right assessment and identify the optimal solution to limit risks and deliver great performance, which may even comprise a hybrid approach.

Additionally, it is important to weigh up the reputational cost and impact of a cloud security breach for a company and identify specific solutions that best suit the business.

Appropriate selection of security solutions, instead of relying on default contracts, will enhance protection against data breaches, thus providing very substantial savings in the end.

Further, an often unidentified threat is that of well-meaning internal personnel unintentionally making a mistake in their use of the service. Once deploying the chosen service, it is imperative that IT decision-makers create guidelines around engagement with the cloud and ensure employees learn exactly how to use it properly.

Cloud services and storage are more than prevalent with 76% of Australian IT decision-makers already using cloud storage and web applications in their business.

The cloud will not be disappearing any time soon, so CIOs need to resist delaying the inevitable and take the responsibility of ensuring a robust security governance system is implemented.

Image courtesy of Perspecsys under CC

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