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RSA Survey: No Trust for Cloud Vendors, Wikileaks

Posted February 21, 2011    Peter McCalister

At this year’s RSA we had a swat team passing out surveys – over 111 responses – to find out if people trust their cloud vendors with their data.

If you haven’t read it, we participated in a great TechDebate with NetworkWorld that put the issue of cloud security to the test. We went head-to-head in the debate against IBM and our position – that I’d like to reinforce in this blog post – is that cloud vendors will never be secure without more proactivity from their clients.

So without further ado, here’s the highlights from our survey:

  • 71% of respondents wouldn’t trust a cloud vendor with highly regulated data.  Some participants even scoffed at the idea and the few who marked “yes” emphasized they wish there was a depends option. If we can’t trust our cloud vendors, how can we get there? What needs to happen so we can put sensitive data in the cloud? Lets keep going.
  • 60% of respondents don’t know or aren’t sure what their cloud vendors’ privileged access policies are. Cloud vendors need to provide this information to their clients, but they won’t unless customers ask for it. This is where customers of cloud vendors need to be more proactive. Set requirements for privileged access, ask questions, demand reports, know their policies.
  • At least 24% of respondents estimate that over 50 administrators have privileged access to their cloud-hosted data and 55% have no idea how many IT admins have privileged access. This is what makes privileged access from cloud vendors even more important – there’s more IT staff and they don’t work for your company. Is your cloud vendor doing what they can to limit the number of privileged access account with access to your particular data?
  • 44% believe IT security has no influence or not enough influence in cloud vendor selections. Cloud vendors are in a business and IT security costs erode their revenue and force them to charge more. If their clients don’t see the value in security enough to make buying decisions based on it, that makes it a good business practice for cloud vendors to glaze over security best practices. The best time to investigate your cloud vendors security reporting and practices is BEFORE you buy from them.
  • 61% of respondents have over $100 million worth of data on cloud-hosted servers. No surprise here. Your data is priceless. It’s worth the security investment to protect it. One respondent said she wished there was an option for “priceless”, because some data is worth so much, you just can’t put a price on it.
  • 36% of respondents have made some kind of efforts specifically for preventing a leak to Wikileaks at their organization. This is a bit off topic from our cloud-centered survey, but it was interesting to see just how many organizations are really making an effort to prevent these emerging risks. Since Wikileaks is primarily a risk only to very large organizations and is a reasonably new threat, the survey would indicate that the IT security industry has picked up on it very quickly.

If you haven’t read it yet, one of our very first blog posts was an entertaining survey from VMWorld, which shows what IT staff would be willing to do for $20 million – including wearing a Tutu. In contrast to the 9 people willing to chop off their own arm, stealing from the company seems like a small price to pay.

The issues raised in the VMWorld survey are also worth a read as it relates to cloud security considerations, since the cloud entails prolific virtualization.

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