More Companies Trust Cloud Apps, but Security Controls Still Hazy

As companies put more faith in the cloud and move more data online, security continues to be a problem with shared data remaining outside of many businesses' control.

cloud security

More companies have faith that cloud applications are as secure as their on-premises counterparts, but their control over the security of cloud applications continues to fall short, according to two surveys released this week.

Fifty-two percent of cyber-security professionals believe that cloud applications are at least as secure as the on-premises applications they are replacing, up from 40 percent that answered similarly last year, according to a survey published by cloud-security firm Bitglass. The biggest threats to cloud applications and the data they hold are unauthorized access, hijacking of accounts and insecure APIs, the survey found.

"Organizations are all over the place in terms of cloud adoption, maturity and knowledge," Rich Campagna, vice president of products for Bitglass, told eWEEK. "Those who have been out there for a while realize that … cloud providers are investing a lot more in security of the applications and the infrastructure than they are able to."

A second analysis found that the cloud continues to be strongly adopted within businesses.

The average company used 935 cloud applications in the first quarter of 2016, up slightly from 917 in the previous quarter, according to a study of client data published by cloud-security firm Netskope. Only 5 percent of the applications used in a typical enterprise are sanctioned by management, and nearly 95 percent of applications are not enterprise-ready, the Netskope report stated.

Malware is increasingly being detected among the data stored in the cloud. More than 11 percent of companies had malware detected in their sanctioned apps, up from less than 5 percent the year before, according to Netskope. The malware included JavaScript exploits and droppers, macro-based malware, backdoors, mobile malware, spyware and adware, and even some Mac malware, according to the company.

The data does not speak to how many instances of malware were found in each infected company, said Jamie Barnett, chief marketing officer at Netskope.

"I expect it to rise, because we have been scanning for malware in the sanctioned applications—the Boxes, Dropboxes and Google Drives," she said. "Where we will see a big rise is when we start scanning for malware to and from any app."

Applications in which malware was discovered had an average of 6.6 instances of malware, Barnett said.

Both the data analysis and survey found that Microsoft's cloud services have overtaken Google's rival offerings. The number of companies that have existing or planned Office 365 deployments jumped more than a third to 61 percent of respondents in the Bitglass survey, up from 45 percent the previous year. Google actually lost share, down to 26 percent from 29 percent the year before.

The data suggests that as more companies move to the cloud, they are increasingly turning to the online versions of more traditional applications.

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...