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Cloud Apps Just As Secure As On-Premise Apps, Say InfoSec Pros

Unfortunately, 75% of cloud apps will still fall afoul of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation, according to new studies.

Once studiously avoided by enterprises because of security and compliance concerns, cloud applications have now gained the trust of most infosec professionals, according to a new survey by Bitglass. However, cloud apps' security and compliance concerns are far from over -- the lion's share of them are unprepared for new legislation coming out of Europe, according to a new study by Netskope. 

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Fifty-two percent of respondents to the Bitglass survey of 2,200 information security professionals said they believe cloud apps are at least as secure as on-premise apps (17% say more secure; 35% as secure). Enterprise confidence in cloud apps has increased so much that 61% of respondents have existing or planned Office 365 deployments and 26% have existing or planned Google Apps deployments.

But research from Netskope shows the number of enterprises that found malware in their sanctioned cloud apps nearly tripled from Q4 to Q1 (from 4.1- to 11%), including "many" instances of ransomware; and 73.5% of the threats were considered "high" severity.

Further, three-quarters of cloud apps are not ready to comply with the European Union's new General Data Protection Directive, according to Netskope.  

Our early findings indicate that 75.4 percent of all cloud apps are not ready for the GDPR, meaning they lack proper geography, security, and privacy controls as well as industry certifications to be considered ready to comply with the requirements of GDPR. When assessing cloud apps, enterprises will increasingly have to do the due diligence on cloud apps in use by employees and compensate for the lack of native controls.

The GDPR, which will go into effect in 2018, places rigorous demands on cloud application providers and the organizations that use them. For example, the legislation requires that enterprises can organizations can guarantee that EU citizens' personally identifiable information is kept in datacenters that reside within EU borders. Plus, it requires that EU citizen data be subject to a variety of other security and privacy protections and policies.

Maybe respondents to the Bitglass survey had GDPR on the brain when they were answering questions, because when identifying their "most-desired capabilities" creating data boundaries and setting security policies across multiple cloud apps were top of the wishlist.

Unfortunately, many cloud apps are falling short on these native capabilities, which means that organizations will need to eschew cloud services or find add-on solutions.

One to three respondents to the Bitglass survey state that external sharing is the biggest threat to cloud apps security. Netskope found a sizeable portion -- 26% -- of sanctioned enterprise cloud apps were shared externally; some even publicly.  

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Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

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