Security Standoff In The Cloud?

CA Technologies and the Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm specializing in privacy, data protection and information security policy, recently released a study that shows cloud providers and cloud consumers are not aligned on cloud security. Their conflicting views on focus, priority and responsibility suggest a pending security standoff between cloud providers and cloud users.

The study, "Security of Cloud Computing Providers," indicates that cloud providers are more focused on delivering the benefits of cost and speed of deployment, the top two reasons cited for migrating to cloud computing. The majority of cloud providers (79 percent) allocate just 10 percent or less of IT resources to security or control-related activities. This result is consistent with the finding that less than half of the respondents agree or strongly agree that security is a priority.

"The focus on reduced cost and faster deployment may be sufficient for cloud providers now, but as organizations reach the point where increasingly sensitive data and applications are all that remains to migrate to the cloud, they will quickly reach an impasse," said Mike Denning, general manager, Security, CA Technologies. "If the risk of breach outweighs potential cost savings and agility, we may reach a point of 'cloud stall' -- where cloud adoption slows or stops -- until organizations believe cloud security is as good as or better than enterprise security."

Additional key findings include:

  • Less than 20 percent of cloud providers across the U.S. and Europe view security as a competitive advantage. Fewer than 30 percent of respondents consider security as an important responsibility. Less than 27 percent of respondents feel their cloud services substantially protect and secure customer information.
  • The majority of cloud providers (69 percent) believe security is primarily the responsibility of the cloud user; this contrasts with 35 percent of cloud users who believe security is their responsibility. Just 16 percent of cloud providers feel security is a shared responsibility, compared to 33 percent of cloud users who believe the duty should be shared. Thirty-two percent of both cloud providers and cloud users say security is the responsibility of the provider.
  • Cloud providers and cloud users disagree widely on the degree to which they saw intellectual property (IP) being too sensitive for the cloud. Sixty-eight percent of cloud users felt their IP was too risky for cloud use, compared to just 42 percent of cloud providers.

"Given the well-publicized concerns about the potential risks to organizations' sensitive and confidential information in the cloud, we believe it is only a matter of time until users of cloud computing solutions will demand enhanced security systems," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. "However, until this happens, users of cloud computing should be aware of their responsibility to assess the risks before migrating to the cloud. They should thoroughly vet providers and their applications and infrastructure for their ability to safeguard information. Finally, cloud users and providers should consider the importance of joint responsibility to create a secure computing environment."

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