Is The Data You Store in Cloud Applications Secure? Think Again.

More and more businesses are moving their business systems to cloud applications, and for good reason. Cloud applications’ subscription based models allow for flexibility, reduce data loss via hardware and replace the burden of deploying, maintaining and supporting complex on-premises software applications. They allow for agile working, making it easier for employees to collaborate with their colleagues and work remotely. Not to mention cloud computing is environmentally friendly.

But despite all these advantages, businesses often find that they are unable to gain full visibility of all the cloud applications they have running within their infrastructure. On average companies are using 20 times more applications than they believe they are*, with the majority of these additional apps being adopted without any IT approval or oversight. This lack of visibility can leave businesses open to new threats that may not have been considered for traditional on-premise solutions.

Shadow IT – the average enterprise company believes they have between 30 – 40 cloud applications running within their organisations, when in reality they have closer to 928 apps*. With this many unknown cloud applications being used organisations are unable to have a complete grasp of all the activities that are taking place. Organisations are also unable to control the applications that employees may download to work related mobile devices, leaving the company open to more unknown threats.

Governing information in the cloud – it is often the idea that cloud services ‘just work’ and that any information residing in these applications is managed by the cloud provider. It is important for organisations to recognise that any information within these cloud applications is their own responsibility, and it becomes separate from an organisation’s internal information governance process and therefore company policies must be updated to reflect this change.

Malware threats – using cloud based applications can open up your organisation to new malware threats. Users can accidentally or maliciously upload documents or files with hidden malware to cloud solutions that would not be detected by traditional endpoint security solutions. In addition, larger well-known cloud solution providers such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google Suite are often a target for cyber criminals. It is therefore important that you have additional security measures in place and an alternative back up for all your organisations’ critical data.

Data loss and compliance – with the Australian government’s release of the Data Breach Legislation earlier this year it has become imperative that companies protect themselves as much as possible from any potential data losses. Although cloud computing reduces the risk of any data loss via hardware, there is the danger that companies could lose data through cloud solutions if they are not set up with the correct policies in place.

In order to protect your organisation from these risks you must ensure that you have policies and governance in place to address the way a modern enterprise consumes cloud applications and stores data. This can only be successful when an organisation has full visibility of the cloud applications being adopted within their company. Cloud Application Security Brokers (CASB) are an easy way for businesses to get a full 360 view of their IT infrastructure, enabling the organisation to act and put the proper measures in place. In addition they can provide integrated data protection and encryption, activity monitoring, malware detection and neutralisation and aid investigation of suspicious users and incidents.

To read more about CASBs, how they can help your organisation and how the market leaders stack up download Forrester’s report here.

Cloud applications risk landscape

References
*Symantec Shadow Data Report 2016

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