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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Cloud improves data security, but worries remain

Category:   Secure File Transfer

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Ever since the technology became widely available, cloud computing has been viewed with both excitement and concern by decision-makers in various industries. As countless experts have highlighted, cloud computing has the potential to revolutionize businesses, providing a host of benefits, including greater collaborative abilities, improved data access and increased flexibility.

Yet the advantages offered by the cloud have always been seen as bearing a major drawback: an increased risk to corporate cybersecurity. The fear that cloud adoption would increase the likelihood of data breaches and other security issues has long been cited as the biggest obstacle preventing greater cloud adoption.

However, as time has passed and the technology has become better understood, business leaders are increasingly coming to realize that cloud security risks are largely overblown.

Highlighting this development, a recent study found that a majority of participating IT executives believe the cloud actually improves overall security, although concerns still remain.

The cloud and security
The study, from NetIQ and IDG Connect, included insight from IT executives from around the world from companies with at least 500 employees. Among those surveyed, 51 percent said they believed the cloud improves their organizations' security.

"These survey findings demonstrate that IT executives are feeling more confident in the execution of their cloud security strategies and programs," said Geoff Webb, director of Solution Strategy at NetIQ.

However, the study also revealed that despite this growing level of confidence in the cloud's security capabilities, many decision-makers are still not entirely sure their data is safe in cloud environments.  Most notably, 45 percent of respondents indicated they are not completely confident that their cloud providers offer sufficient security measures to meet their organizations' data protection needs.

This highlights an important aspect of cloud computing for businesses of all kinds: While service providers offer a range of security services and guarantees, responsibility for protecting a firm's data ultimately falls to the organization itself. Consequently, Webb asserted that firms need to adopt their own security measures to ensure data integrity.

"Data-centric security programs remain the most targeted and effective way to build security programs ready to embrace the complexities inherent in adopting cloud," he explained.

The right strategies
This raises the question of how a firm should go about ensuring that its data remains protected in the cloud.

Notably, companies need solutions that account for data that is being sent and received via the cloud. To this end, firms should consider investing in cloud FTP services. With high-quality cloud FTP, companies can take advantage of the inherent benefits of cloud computing without any additional risk. Currently, there are cloud FTP solutions on the market with military-grade security which can be utilized without overextending a company's budget.

Additionally, organizations should consider leveraging encryption programs. With such a solution, a firm can ensure that even if data is accessed by unauthorized individuals, it remains unusable.