The cloud security question: Benefit or barrier?

Despite perceptions to the contrary, small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) are benefiting from increased IT data security as a result of a move to cloud computing, according to new research from comscore and Microsoft.

The results of the research, carried out among SMBs in Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the US, oppose the perception of security as the Achilles heel of the cloud argument.

The study shows that 35% of U.S. companies surveyed had experienced noticeably higher levels of security since moving to the cloud. In addition, 32% said they spent less time worrying about the threat of cyber attacks.

U.S. SMBs using the cloud spent 32% less time each week managing security than companies not using the cloud. They were also five times more likely to have reduced what they spend on managing security as a percentage of overall IT budget.

More US survey results included:

  • SMBs that used the cloud were nearly 6x more likely to have decreased the total amount spent on security
  • Over half said that using the cloud enabled them to add new products/services that benefitted their business quickly and securely
  • When asked to choose from a drop down list of specific cloud benefits:
    • 35% of SMBs said their business was more secure
    • 34% said they were more confident of regulatory compliance
    • 32% said they worried less about the threat of cyber-attack

However, 40% of companies not using cloud say that security concerns are their main barrier, while 67% of those say industry security standards would make them more confident. More transparency on how providers operate their networks, enabling customers compare standards and best practices would make 38% of businesses more likely to invest in cloud.

Results from the other locations involved in the study will be released ‘in the next couple of weeks’, said Adrienne Hall, general manager, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing. “There’s a perception that security is a barrier to cloud adoption,” he said. “Yet when companies embrace and invest in cloud services, they find the benefits far outweigh previous concerns.”

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15 May 2012, 4:27 p.m.

In end user survey, after survey, the top 2 issues that surface to the top are security (data being the typical lead in this) and reliability (being availability and accessibility). A good reference point for this being the Cloud Industry Forums 2011 Cloud Adoption and Tends Survey where 64% of respondents cited Data Security as their most significant concern of using cloud in their business. (papers available at

There is nothing to fear inherently about the cloud. Companies simply have to perform their diligence as they would when buying any other solution, as long as they know the right questions to ask. Ignoring the cloud or moving everything to it in a race to be all cloud are both perilous positions. Taking educated steps to the cloud will ensure you gain the benefits that it can bring in a secure manner and that you dont end up in a technological storm.

Ian Moyse