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Survey: Security Is Top Reason for Cloud Hesitancy

The poll revealed that 90 percent of companies are still wary of data protection in the cloud.

"Today, security is the single biggest factor holding back faster adoption of cloud computing." That's the key takeaway from a recent survey that looks at the top threats IT pros see in the cloud.

The survey was a joint project sponsored by a number of security companies, and put together by the Information Security Community on LinkedIn. More than 1,000 cybersecurity professionals responded, according to the informational Web site InfosecBuddy. LinkedIn says the Information Security Community has more than 250,000 members.

71 Percent Using Cloud
A large majority of survey takers -- 71 percent -- have some type of cloud infrastructure in place, from those in the planning phase through those working in production environments. Of those, 71 percent are using a hybrid mix of public and private cloud, with 12 percent using only public cloud, and 17 percent staying with private cloud only. Those figures give more weight to other statistics showing that cloud adoption is growing more mainstream in business.

But further mainstreaming may depend at least in part on the security fears some still have about the cloud. Perhaps the most jarring figure in the survey was the fact that 90 percent of organizations are either "moderately" or "very" concerned about public cloud security. The breakdown was nearly even, with 47 percent very concerned, and 43 percent moderately concerned.

Top Security Threats
The top perceived security threats were 1) Unauthorized access (63 percent), 2) Hijacking of accounts (61 percent), and 3) Malicious insiders (43 percent). Surprisingly, more publicized security breaches like malware infiltrations and  denial of service (DoS) attacks are seen as less severe for public cloud.

The security fears may be justified, considering the fact that companies have experienced more breaches (28 percent) in their public clouds than they have (22 percent) with on-premises applications. Maybe because of that, 36 percent of respondents say that major cloud apps like Salesforce and Office 365 are less secure than apps in their own datacenters.

The most popular workloads organizations are trusting to the cloud are storage, at 45 percent, compute, at 42 percent, and business apps, at 40 percent. Networking and virtualization workloads are tied at 33 percent.

What Data Is Trusted in Cloud?
Email is the most-often stored type of corporate data in the cloud, at 45 percent. That's followed by sales and marketing data, at 42 percent, intellectual property at 38 percent and customer data, in fourth place at 31 percent. Just 19 percent put any sensitive financial data in the cloud, and only 8 percent of employee healthcare data. Those last two categories are undoubtedly influenced by compliance and government regulations.

The top three public cloud providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), with 31 percent usage, Google Cloud Platform with 25 percent, and Windows Azure, with 22 percent. Those findings are slightly at odds with other recent cloud surveys, which consistently place Azure second behind AWS.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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