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10/15/2015
03:30 PM
Jaikumar Vijayn
Jaikumar Vijayn
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Survey Shows Little Accord On Responsibility For Cloud Security

With procurement teams and business groups doing most vendor selection and vetting, IT groups have little role in security.

Many industry experts agree that cloud security has to be a shared responsibility between cloud providers and the businesses that use these services to host and manage their data and applications. But there's less agreement is over just how much responsibility each side has for ensuring data security in the cloud.

The Ponemon Institute, sponsored by Armor Defense, recently polled 990 IT and non-IT executives in the US and UK on cloud security-related topics and found a considerable disconnect on the issue of shared responsibility.

For starters, barely 16 percent of those polled even believe ensuring the security of cloud-hosted applications is a shared responsibility. Some 31 percent rely entirely on their cloud provider to keep SaaS applications safe, while 20 percent say businees end-users should be most accountable for it. A mere 15 percent say IT organizations should be most responsible for securing enterprise data stored in the cloud.

Interestingly, IT and non-IT respondents have different views of the role that technology organizations should play in cloud security. Nearly a quarter of the non-IT executives that Ponemon polled feel IT has a lead role to play in securing cloud hosted applications. But barely 13 percent of IT security executives share that same opinion.

The numbers become somewhat easier to understand when taken in the context of some of the other findings of the survey. For example, the survey results show that IT organizations continue to be largely in the dark about the use of SaaS and infrastructure as a service within their organizations. Most of the selection and vetting of cloud providers is being done by procurement teams and directly by the business groups that want the service.

The survey results suggest that corporate IT groups and information security organizations have a minimal role to play in either electing cloud vendors or in ensuring that they are adequately vetted.

When asked who was responsible for ensuring that cloud providers are secure and compliant with applicable privacy and security requirements, 43 percent of the respondents in the Ponemon/Armor survey point to their procurement organization. About 40 percent say business groups that make these decisions. Only 22 percent say corporate IT is responsible for this task, while an even smaller 17 percent say it's their IT security organization.

A surprising 62 percent of the survey respondents say their information security team is rarely or never involved in helping choose cloud providers.

The apparent lack of IT involvement in major cloud decisions is not the only issue.

Despite continuing concerns over the security of cloud-hosted enterprise data and services in many organizations, a substantial proportion of the respondents in the Ponemon survey appear to be doing little proactively to mitigate risk.

For example, more than 50 percent do not evaluate cloud applications and infrastructure for security vulnerabilities prior to deployment. Some 52 percent of organizations that use offshore providers, or whose data might be hosted at an offshore location, do nothing to ensure the vendor is in compliance with relevant security and privacy requirements. Less than four in 10 leverage security tools to protect enterprise applications and data in the cloud, while only 22 percent have the ability to inspect cloud-hosted data.

“It continues to surprise me that there seems to be an agreement in the industry that security is important and continues to be a major concern in the cloud,” says Wayne Reynolds, vice president of security at Armor. “Yet more than half of the respondents are unwilling to pay a premium to ensure [that] security.”

The cloud provides an opportunity for enterprises to gain great flexibility, agility, and scalability for sensitive workloads, Reynolds says. But to do this securely requires the right blend of technologies and security personnel.

“For those enterprises without large security staffs, a fully managed security provider might make the most sense given the ability to take on more responsibility for securing a greater part of the IT stack,” he says.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2015 | 7:11:41 PM
Too much is too little
The problem with shared responsibility is that when it's everyone's repsonsibility, it's no one's responsibility.

There needs to clearly be a party with clear responsibility; otherwise, everyone will shrug things off to each other.
UlfM645
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UlfM645,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2015 | 11:24:37 AM
Sensitive Data
I find it concerning that "Some 52 percent of organizations that use offshore providers, or whose data might be hosted at an offshore location, do nothing to ensure the vendor is in compliance with relevant security and privacy requirements," and "Less than four in 10 leverage security tools to protect enterprise applications and data in the cloud." Another Ponemon study "The State of Data Security Intelligence," reported that "Data that is outsourced to cloud is the biggest worry."

Gartner released the report "Simplify Operations and Compliance in the Cloud by Protecting Sensitive Data" in June 2015 that highlighted key challenges as "cloud increases the risks of noncompliance through unapproved access and data breach." The report recommended CIOs and CISOs to address data residency and compliance issues by "applying encryption or tokenization," and to also  "understand when data appears in clear text, where keys are made available and stored, and who has access to the keys." Another recent Gartner report concluded that "Cloud Data Protection Gateways" provides a "High Benefit Rating" and "offer a way to secure sensitive enterprise data and files stores of data and use cases.

Modern tools can at least secure sensitive data before sending it to cloud.

Ulf Mattsson, CTO Protegrity
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 8:13:04 AM
Security through Ambiguity?
To date, cloud has become more and more prevalent in the business sector to the point where businesses can no longer play dumb. Cloud can be discerned and analyzed and this is why its alarming that only 17% of the poll stated that security had a role in their cloud roll out. This is also why its imperative for security to have a seat at the table during business decisions. The cloud can handle data in a variety of walls, most if not all of which involve not storing your data on premise which has inherent security risks. Security needs to have their eyes on cloud implementations from start to finish.  (Title riddled with sarcasm)
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