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Unauthorized Access, Malware Top Cloud Security Worries

A recent survey of IT professionals found that the top cloud security concerns included unauthorized access, malware attacks, and DoS attacks.

By Elizabeth Snell

While moving certain IT operations to the cloud can provide numerous benefits for organizations across industries, potential cloud security issues are still a top concern for the majority of IT workers, according to a recent Netwrix Corporation survey.

The second annual Cloud Security Survey found that 70 percent of IT professionals worldwide said that data privacy and security in the cloud is a top worry, an increase from the 63 percent who voiced their concerns in the 2015 survey.

More than 600 IT professionals from various industries, including technology, government, healthcare, finance, and manufacturing were interviewed for the report.

“Even though cloud providers prioritize security and, in many cases, organizations cannot achieve the same level of security for their on-prem IT infrastructures, cloud computing does introduce new risks,” the report’s authors wrote. “These include third-party access to systems and data, unauthorized access by employees, increasingly sophisticated attackers, and lack of visibility into what is happening to data in the cloud.”

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that unauthorized access was their top cloud security concern, followed by malware (37 percent) and denial of service (DoS) attacks (34 percent).

There also seems to be mixed reviews of whether adopting cloud options will in fact improve an organization’s IT security. While 41 percent of surveyed cloud users said that the security of their corporate IT infrastructures and data was improved due to cloud adoption, 44 percent of cloud users reported that cloud providers offer adequate security controls.

However, 61 percent of respondents said that they view their own employees as the biggest cloud data security threat.

Following data privacy and security concerns, respondents reported worries in the following areas for cloud technology:

  • Loss of control over data - 53 percent
  • Data backup and recovery - 39 percent
  • Costs related to cloud adoption - 33 percent
  • Integration with on-premises systems - 33 percent
  • Compliance issues - 30 percent

Insufficient security mechanisms was listed by more than half of those surveyed - 56 percent - as the top hindrance to cloud adoption. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that high costs and small budgets were the largest barrier, and 39 percent said that a lack of compliance guarantees was the top hindrance.

Nearly all of the surveyed IT professionals - 95 percent - said that visibility into user activities in the cloud is an important element in cloud providers' security guarantees.

“The 2016 survey has revealed that despite cloud providers trying hard to secure the cloud environments, the majority of IT pros are still not convinced that the technology is safe enough - mainly because of the insider threat,” Netwrix CEO and Co-founder Alex Vovk said in a statement. “Lack of visibility is the primary reason why security remains the top cloud-related challenge for many organizations.”

Respondents also cited the top cloud benefits, with 68 percent listing flexibility in resource utilization and 60 percent saying that a higher availability of systems was a key perk. However, only 8 percent of cloud users said they plan broader cloud adoption.  

The most popular type of cloud technology used was the hybrid cloud, with 44 percent of respondents saying they used it. Thirty-nine percent reported that they used private clouds, while 21 percent of cloud users opted for public clouds.

Furthermore, 55 percent of companies that are considering a move into the cloud prefer the hybrid deployment model. Thirty-six percent who have not yet made the move said they plan to deploy the private cloud and only 9 percent plan to use the public cloud.

“The observed tendency shows a clear shift toward the hybrid model, with planned public cloud deployments 2.3 times lower,” the report’s authors explained. “The popularity of the hybrid model is explained by the attempt to balance costs, business benefits and security of sensitive data and systems.”

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