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Cloud Security Visibility Gap Dogs Deployments

SANS says visibility is the top cloud security concern.

As enterprises increasingly weave a growing number of outside cloud providers into the fabric of today's IT infrastructure, visibility into cloud provider operations and security controls reigns as the number one cloud security concern, according to a recent survey conducted by SANS Institute on behalf of Cloud Passage.

In a report released today, SANS analyst David Shackleford says that the opacity of provider infrastructure management remains a huge point of contention among IT professionals, with 58 percent citing it as the biggest problem they have with cloud vendors.

"Regardless of the model used, the issues are the same: Lack of visibility, steep fees for vendor-provided security and lack of compliance support are respondents’ top three concerns with their public cloud services," he writes, explaining that this is a concern whether organizations are using software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers.

This nevertheless is doing nothing to dampen cloud adoption—81 percent of respondents say they expect to deploy a SaaS environment within the next year and well over half expect to deploy PaaS and IaaS.  

As organizations seek to square this visibility gap with accelerated deployments, the biggest security challenge they'll face is in keeping the auditors at bay. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that maintaining compliance across public, private and hybrid cloud environments has been a huge challenge related to their cloud model.

As cloud adoption continues to snowball, so does the amount of sensitive data in the cloud. Approximately 48 percent of respondents store or process employee records in the cloud and 40 percent store or process customers' personal information. And 20 percent of organization also use the cloud to store or process intellectual property, customer financial information, and health records.

All of this sensitive data puts a target squarely on the back of these cloud environments and that worries respondents. Approximately 40 percent say they're concerned about unauthorized access to data by other tenants and 38 percent are concerned about shadow IT in the cloud. And circling back to the visibility concern, well over a third of organizations are worried that the public  cloud's lack of consistent security controls that integrate with on-premises tools and security management make it difficult to keep tabs on data from end to end.

"A number of respondents also specifically mentioned the need for greater security automation, whereby security teams have access to tools and scripts that integrate with provider and SecaaS APIs to better secure and monitor their cloud assets," Shackleford says. "Security teams are struggling to get enough visibility into cloud provider infrastructure, controls and processes through contracts and audit reports, and say the nature of organizations’ 'defense in depth' security stack has to change as well."

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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