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September 27, 2010

Security a Big Concern for Cloud Computing

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor


While cloud services are gaining popularity and analysts are predicting growth, security seems to be a big concern for a lot of IT professionals. And future growth clearly depends on this factor as evident from a recent survey conducted by PhoneFactor, a leading global provider of phone-based two-factor authentication.

To better gauge the role of security in cloud computing adoption, PhoneFactor (News - Alert) surveyed more than 300 IT professionals from a wide variety of industries, including technology, banking and finance, healthcare, government and professional services. The idea was to look at the organizations' current and planned use of cloud computing, as well as what perceived benefits were driving the adoption. Conversely, the survey also questioned on factors that were limiting the adoption.

For nearly three quarters of respondents (73 percent), security was a primary barrier to adopting cloud computing.This was followed by compliance (54 percent) and portability/ownership of data (48 percent).

Likewise, 42 percent of the respondents indicated that security concerns had held their company back from adopting cloud computing, and 30 percent were not sure. Only 28 percent of the 300 respondents indicated that security was not a deterrent.

Furthermore, leading cloud services like Google (News - Alert) Apps, Amazon Web Services, and SalesForce/Force.com are all rated only moderately or less secure by more than 74 percent of respondents.

Preventing unauthorized access to data was identified by the study as the greatest cloud computing security concern. Consequently, an overwhelming majority of respondents (93 percent) were at least moderately concerned about preventing unauthorized access to company data in the cloud. And more than half (53 percent) were extremely concerned.

So what can be done to increase confidence in cloud computing? According to the survey respondents, encryption (84 percent), multi-factor authentication (81 percent), and intrusion prevention (80 percent) are critical to securing cloud services.

Regarding benefits, reduced cost (65 percent), scalability (62 percent), and rapid implementation (50 percent) are seen as attractive features. Hence, 87 percent of respondents indicated that they are planning to at least evaluate the use of cloud services.

"Companies are eager to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing," said Steve Dispensa (News - Alert), PhoneFactor CTO and co-founder, in a statement.

He added, "Demand for cloud computing systems clearly exists. However, survey results indicate that better security, like multi-factor authentication and encryption, are going to be required if cloud computing adoption is going to move forward."

Google's announcement earlier this week that they are adding two-step authentication to Google Apps validates the need for additional security for user access to cloud applications, said PhoneFactor.

 


Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda