Companies Worry About Security Implications of Cloud Services

An annual report on the state of the cloud economy by the Cloud Security Alliance finds that companies are still worried about cloud adoption, even as their employees are increasingly using services.

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While companies and their employees continue to wholeheartedly adopt cloud services, the security implications of having business data regularly stored online increasingly worry executives, according to an annual survey by the Cloud Security Alliance.

The Cloud Adoption Practices and Priorities Survey Report found that 74 percent of companies plan to adopt cloud services this year, but only 8 percent believe they know what apps their employees are using. In addition, only 21 percent of companies have a group or committee tasked with creating cloud security policies; another 31 percent plan to create such a group.

The responses show that companies are worried about the pace that their employees are moving to cloud services, Kamal Shah, vice president of products for cloud-security firm Skyhigh Networks, told eWEEK. Skyhigh Networks conducted the survey, which was published by the Cloud Security Alliance.

"What has happened over the past few years is that the mindset has shifted from blocking cloud services to enabling cloud services," Shah said. "They are using cloud to drive the business forward, but also need to make sure that security policies are in place."

Other surveys have shown a similar trend. On Jan. 8, cloud-security firm Netskope released its own report showing that employees of the average company used 613 cloud apps in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from 579 in the previous quarter. As many as 15 percent of workers, however, admitted to having their credentials compromised, the Netskope report found.

The Cloud Security Alliance's report found that concerns over the security of cloud services is the major factor holding back adoption. About 73 percent of respondents cited security concerns as the top challenge holding back cloud projects, according to the CSA survey. Other major factors included IT's loss of control over the services, concerns over regulatory compliance, and the lack of knowledge of both IT and business managers.

In addition, almost three-quarters of companies rate efforts to secure their cloud services as "important" or "very important," according to the survey, slightly more than the number of companies that consider intrusion prevention systems as an important or very important priority in 2015.

Still, the concerns about cloud security are not stopping companies and their employees from wholeheartedly adopting cloud services to better do their work. Eight out of 10 companies receive at least one request each month for a new cloud service, the CSA's survey found.

"The spend in cloud is definitely increasing," Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance, told eWEEK. "While we have these awareness issues and usage issues, it is not stopping companies from jumping on cloud."

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos is an award-winning freelance journalist who has covered information security, cybercrime and technology's impact on society for almost two decades. A former research engineer, he's...