Technology: Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky

Cloud services are now a regular component of IT operations, and are utilised by more than 90 per cent of organisations around the world. 

Many are working under a Cloud First philosophy, only choosing to deploy an internal service if there is no suitable cloud variant available. As a result, IT architectures are rapidly shifting to a hybrid private/public cloud model, with those surveyed expecting 80 per cent  of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months.

Key findings

Cloud services are widely used in some form, with 93 per cent of organisations utilising software-,infrastructure-, or platform-as-a-service offerings.

The average number of cloud services in use in an organisation dropped from 43 in 2015 to 29 in 2016, indicating potential consolidation of cloud providers or solutions. Cloud architectures also changed significantly, from predominantly private-only in 2015 to increased adoption of public cloud resulting in a predominantly hybrid private/public infrastructure in 2016.

 Almost half (49 per cent) of the professionals surveyed stated that they had slowed their cloud adoption due to a lack of cybersecurity skills, with the worst shortages in Japan, Mexico, and the Gulf Coast countries.

The trust and perception of public cloud services continues to improve year-over-year. Most organizations view cloud services as or more secure than private clouds, and much more likely to deliver lower costs of ownership and overall data visibility. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust public clouds by more than 2:1.

Improved trust and perception, as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management, is encouraging more organisations to store sensitive data in the public cloud. Personal customer information is the most likely type of data to be stored in public clouds, kept there by 62 per cent of those surveyed.

Cloud applications continue to be a vector for cyber attacks, and over half (52 per cent) of the respondents indicate that they have definitively tracked a malware infection to a SaaS application.

Shadow IT is a growing concern for the IT department. Driven by the slower adoption of IT or the mainstream acceptance of clouds, almost 40 per cent of cloud services are commissioned without the involvement of IT. As a result, 65 per cent of IT professionals think that this phenomenon is interfering with their ability to keep the cloud safe and secure. 

Virtualisation of private data center architectures is progressing. On average, 52 per cent of an organisation's data centre servers are virtualised, and most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data centre completed within two years. of cloud services are commissioned without the involvement of IT

Conclusions and recommendations

Businesses are trusting cloud services with a wide range of applications and data, much of it sensitive or business critical. Data goes to where it is needed, most effective, and most efficient, and security needs to be there in advance to quickly detect threats, protect the organisation, and correct attempts to compromise the data. Cost and resource savings of cloud services are real, and the wide variety of offerings makes it possible to choose the best fit for the organization. Security vendors are delivering tools to address fundamental security concerns, such as protecting data in transit, managing user access, and setting consistent policies across multiple services.

The movement of sensitive data to the public cloud may attract cybercriminals. Attackers will look for the easiest targets, regardless of where they are located. Integrated or unified security solutions are a strong defense against these threats, giving security operations visibility across all of the services the organisation is using and what data sets are permitted to traverse them.

User credentials, especially for administrators, will be the most likely form of attack. Organisations should ensure that they are using authentication best practices, such as distinct passwords, multi-factor authentication, and even biometrics where available.

Despite the majority belief that Shadow IT is putting the organisation at risk, security technologies such as data loss prevention (DLP), encryption, and cloud access security brokers (CASBs) remain underutilised. Integrating these tools with an existing security system increases visibility, enables discovery of shadow services, and provides options for automatic protection of sensitive data at rest and in motion throughout any type of environment.

While it is possible to outsource work to various third-parties, it is not possible to outsource risk. Organisations need to evolve towards a risk management and mitigation approach to information security. Consider adopting a Cloud First strategy to encourage adoption of cloud services to reduce costs and increase flexibility, and put security operations in a proactive position instead of a reactive one.  

Technology: Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky
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