These days it seems not a week goes by without news of another internet security breach perpetrated by hackers looking to steal our social security or credit card numbers. In 2013 alone, there have been dozens of cases in which healthcare companies, government entities and even Facebook have fallen victim to cybercrime or internal data leakage. Some companies are being hit by class-action lawsuits, accused of failing to protect peoples’ information. The companies are finding their answer to this threat by looking to the cloud. According to a recent study, the cloud security services market grew to $13 billion in 2012, and is expected to grow nearly 70 percent by 2017.
There are several factors pushing company and individual security into the cloud. The number of threats of all kinds is increasing these days. IT teams and average customers have to contend with malware, phishing scams and hackers, as well as threats from leaking their data. Another threatening trend is that many of us are using our own personal tablets or phones for work. Essentially, as IT departments continue to see their company infrastructure pushed into the cloud, security must follow.
One of the major emerging security threats is users connecting to their corporate network from remote locations. The policy of allowing workers to bring their own device (BYOD) is erasing the boundaries of traditional networks. The September Mobile Workforce Report from iPass surveyed mobile workers and discovered that 73 percent of them were required by their IT departments to have some sort of security program in place in order to access corporate data from a smartphone. The researchers also found the number jumped to 83 percent if the company paid for the device or plan.
How Are Threats Being Dealt With?
Dozens of companies have sprouted up or expanded into various cloud security functions, allowing for CEO’s and regular folks to sleep better at night knowing their data is safer. Companies like CloudPasage provide real-time monitoring of threats in the cloud as they pop up. Trend Micro provides an encryption service that helps keep data private. Even old-timer IBM is keeping up with all these smaller rivals, with its “Cloud Security Infrastructure and Services.” Other companies are making products that provide firewalls, data recovery services to get your data back after a crash and authentication of permissions and credentials.
Cloud storage companies are seeing more need for security than ever before as well. This is at least partly because millions of new potential customers each year are seriously considering these companies for storage of their precious pictures, videos, documents and more. Companies like Box and Bitcasa allow users to move gigabytes of data from their mobile devices to the cloud, as well as securely share through social media or email. Bitcasa also offers an unlimited amount of data storage it calls “Infinite Drive.” This access to all your data at any time is secured by a “convergent encryption” technology that is so secure, even the people who work at the company aren’t able to see what you upload.
Simple Security Steps for the Everyman
Security Issues aren’t just a product of hackers and phishing scams. The biggest social networks occasionally stumble due to data leaks. In June, Facebook disclosed that about six million users had email addresses or phone numbers unintentionally shared with others when they tried to download information. The problem was found by a security researcher and reported to Facebook, which fixed it.
Mishaps like this are keeping companies on their toes. Twitter, Facebook and even G+ are finding increased adoption amongst businesses, so some companies are taking the simple step of blocking them outright for employees. Others are opting for a more light-handed approach by limiting social network use overall. A company’s goal with that might be to give employees the freedom to leverage social networks as marketing tools for the business, while clamping down on employees’ ability to use those networks for personal use. Workers also have to be careful where they check in on Foursquare, Facebook and others, so as not to give away sensitive geolocation data on their status updates.
There’s a lot more that companies can do to keep their data secure. Most are now requiring that people lock their mobile devices. The iPass report found that 76 percent of mobile workers are required to have a lock on their smartphones, compared to 83 percent when the company pays for the service. One other thing companies can do is educate their employees on the risks of public WiFi networks. People may want to adjust their online behavior depending on what kind of network they are using to access their company’s information. Ultimately, all these threats mean one thing; the need for cloud security is only getting bigger.