Cloud adoption equals security: The CIO’s paradox

(c)iStock.com/Alfonso Cacciola

Cloud technology is one of the most secure ways to store and share data that the world has ever seen. But with data security making the headlines with increasing frequency you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. High profile hackings have at times derailed the industry’s attempts to make the case for the cloud.

Keeping data secure is not a new challenge, however. Businesses have been grappling to protect their data for decades; be it from missing paper files or USBs sticks left behind on the morning commute.

Increasingly, the CIOs I talk to understand that cloud security is much more complex. As a sector, we’ve taken bold steps to improve cloud security by implementing a range of robust solutions, including international standards for privacy and data protection, like ISO 27018, and operational controls, like two-factor authentication.

Cloud technology for the business world is unrecognisable compared to what was on offer five years ago.

But what is often overlooked is that adoption is key to security. For businesses, the real threat to security is not the cloud itself, but shadow IT. When employees are forced to use tools they don’t like, IT departments lose control of security. It is our experience users will start looking for other mobile, fast and user friendly tools, causing IT departments to lose control of security and, more importantly, corporate content and intellectual property.

I’ve lost count of the number of companies who have told me they have invested in ‘shelfware’ – expensive IT systems that nobody uses. Their teams gravitate to the easiest and simplest solutions, sometimes rendering official IT channels obsolete. Those making decisions about the best IT tools to use, aren’t the same people on the ground using them day to day.

The products that are most loved by employees in their personal lives are often the best solutions for businesses too.

Recent research by TNS, commissioned by Dropbox, revealed that the top reasons IT solutions are successful in the workplace are that employees find them easy to understand and use (51%) and that they are easy to access outside of the office (44%).

We also know people want choice - 60% of employees would like some freedom to choose their own technology solutions at work. Satisfaction with personal IT solutions is much higher than those used in the workplace and choice is a big part of the reason.

So it is time CIOs put adoption at the heart of their IT strategies. By employing user-friendly solutions, adoption rates are higher and the risk of data being held outside official platforms is significantly reduced. IT departments put themselves back in control.

New technology will always make headlines but the real concern for business should be the failure to secure high staff adoption rates. The solution for CIOs is to see cloud security as an opportunity to choose products that work best for their teams, and at the same time, strengthen their organisation’s overall security posture.

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