Strike the Balance Between Cloud Data Security, Progressive Use

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Dec 17, 2015 4:33:11 PM

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Strike the Balance Between Cloud Data Security, Progressive Use

One of the more difficult aspects of security today is striking the right balance between employee freedom and corporate control, and this has been clear in certain arenas more than others. For example, that is a topic that has been commonly discussed in the context of BYOD and other mobility strategies, as failure to maintain the right balance can lead to increased risk, poor user engagement, faltering productivity and rogue IT, depending upon which direction the policies lean.

However, this is an issue that truly applies to all different forms of IT security today, as users are accessing technologies from such a wide range of endpoints, and the infrastructure in place has been continuously transitioning into more modernized cloud-based models. To keep this blog post focused, let's remain on the cloud data security equation, and how organizations will need to approach management to ensure continuous protection and successful use of the information stored in and shared through these environments. 

Certain obvious trends are proving that leaders have become more conscious of the threats they face in the cloud. The most recent report from Mordor Intelligence revealed that the market for cloud computing security software will increase at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent between 2014 and 2020, driven by the desire to protect these new assets with highly customized tools and avoid the prospect of becoming the next victim of a major data breach. 

If you would like a little background into the basics of cloud computing security, check out this quick, four-minute video from IBM Think Academy on the core concepts behind defending these environments from threats:

It does appear as though the demand for comprehensive control is rising as well, with companies beginning to invest in a wider range of protective services and solutions for their various digital assets and infrastructure. Small-business owners who have not yet started to take a more progressive approach to their digital risk management strategies, or those who have not updated their policies in a while, should certainly make this a priority going into the new year. 

The hardware side
International Data Corporation recently released its latest Worldwide Quarterly Security Appliance Tracker, which watches the ways in which the market for hardware-based protective solutions are being embraced around the globe every three months. According to the analysts, the third quarter of this year saw a 9.7 percent year-over-year increase in the number of units, with 585,282 shipped in the three-month period of 2015. 

What's more, revenues expanded at about 9.6 percent in the market compared to the third quarter of 2014, with vendors enjoying $2.7 billion in sales globally. When breaking down the market into sub categories, IDC found that unified threat management, sometimes referred to as UTM, was by far the strongest with respect to growth in the third quarter, seeing a 17.8 percent expansion in revenues over last year's tally for the same period. 

Data management must progress comprehensively. Data management must progress comprehensively.

"Security products remain a growing industry as threats continue to plague companies. Over the past year the threat landscape has increased, leading to growth globally as no country is free from attacks," IDC Research Analyst for Security Products Elizabeth Corr explained. "This growth is reflected in the top five vendors growing a combined 9.4 percent year over year."

This, combined with the aforementioned explosion of cloud security software investment and use around the globe, is a positive indication that the world's businesses are taking protection far more seriously today than they were a few years ago. Still, investments only tell one portion of the story, as the ways in which the tools themselves are used, as well as how intelligent the underlying policies are and the level of training delivered to employees will be just as important in the long run. 

All of these matters need to be reconciled soon, but leaders would do well to always keep at least part of the focus on how they can use cloud systems to store, share and analyze valuable information for strategic improvements across operations. 

"Companies have struggled to monetize analytics technology."

Not yet capitalizing
Studies have been released regarding the widespread adoption of analytics solutions but continued struggle to actually monetize the technology. Gartner reported in October that customer data is simply not being used properly yet. The researchers argued that while so many companies store immensely valuable information today, few are really capitalizing upon the opportunities involved, specifically those related to the refinement of customer experience and interaction management. 

"Digital business is having a significant impact on customer data," Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Douglas Laney explained. "The growing wealth of information - from social media, location and context-sensitive data collected from mobile devices and the Internet of Things - is increasing the volume, velocity and variety of that information, radically expanding the scope of the 360-degree customer profile."

Unfortunately, Gartner's analysts believe that firms are often ignoring the data, at least in the sense of leaving it unused for long periods of time. This is the other side of the data management coin, with the first being security, that needs to be a major point of focus for leaders across industries in the coming years, as more information will sure to be hosted by all organizations as time goes on. 

The researchers provided suggestions to make sense of the information and capitalize upon it. 

"Organizations should use valuations of their customer data as the basis for prioritizing investments in technologies that help them acquire, maintain, enrich, archive and apply information," Lahey added. "They should also calculate thorough business cases when designing monetization products," said Mr. Laney.

All too often, small-business owners will attempt to navigate these highly complex and novel challenges on their own, which will quickly lead to increased security risk and a lack of monetization of the information stored throughout their systems. Managed services providers can help to inject the expertise and intelligence necessary to get the most out of data while maintaining tight security of relevant systems and assets. 

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