As the amount of information handled by organizations and individuals all over the world continues to grow, it is each day more important to find ways to store, manage and share data in efficient and cheap ways. According to IDC, from 2013 to 2020 the digital universe will grow by a factor of ten, achieving a size of 44 trillion gigabytes.
One of the main factors driving this growth is the increasing reliance of enterprises in digital resources such as cloud computing. It is widely known that embracing technology solutions is necessary for today’s organizations in order to be more competitive in the market, improve scalability and enhance their productivity.
Cloud computing is a model that facilitates the management, storage and on-demand network access to different computing resources such as data, servers and applications. It consists in third party providers that lend their servers to handle big amounts of data from enterprises and provides them with easy channels for fast release with minimal management efforts. This exchange allows the hiring company to decrease the costs of infrastructure for managing information thus optimizing the use of resources while being able to easily access its information from any place and at any moment.
However, despite the enormous operational and economic benefits that cloud computing may bring to the industry, there are still relevant challenges that continue to stop the generalized adoption of this model. As presented by the most recent HexaTier Survey 2016, 73% of the organizations consider security and compliance to be a major concern when migrating databases to the cloud. Several are the risks faced by cloud services including data breaches, account theft, denial-of-service attacks, external access to stored information, lack of security coordination between service providers and customers, and even lack of compliance with best practices/regulation, among other things.
While concentrating information in provider clouds definitely decreases the operational costs for organizations and enhances their information management processes, it also provides hackers with larger attack surfaces to access private data. According to the Alert Logic Cloud Security Report 2015, from a sample of 842,711 incidents over one year, 78% of them happened on the cloud. One possible explanation that is commonly accepted for this tendency is that cyber attackers are focusing precisely in locations where greater amounts of sensitive data are stored, or in other words, the most profitable networks.
Even worse, lost data from organizations represents serious economic damages first because of the direct damages of the breaches and second because of tough regulatory fines that are imposed by governments to make sure about compliance with best practices and regulations. Information from the Ponemon Institute points out that summing the negative financial effects of data breaches with the correspondent fines and penalties for failing to protect sensitive data represented an average cost of $6.53 million dollars to US companies in 2015. The most affected industries were health, pharmaceutical, financial, energy and transportation.
In an environment where information keeps gaining more importance for organizations and its customers, it is necessary to search for better mechanisms to protect data. In order to enhance the adoption of cloud technologies and take full advantage of the huge benefits that these technologies provide for economic growth and development, further efforts should be focused on finding solutions to the escalating security threats. It is yet to be seen how insecurity keeps on evolving and to what extent is the industry able to raise awareness and foster multidisciplinary collaboration among the different actors to solve this challenge.