Do Cloud Applications Deliver Convenience or Danger?

John Gunn, June 18, 2014

Banned. Condemned. Not Allowed. These are some of the phrases used to describe what I consider some very useful cloud applications.

As technological advances bring more consumer gadgets into our business environments, we as users begin to lose track of where our personal domain ends and our employer’s begins. It’s convenience that drives adoption of public cloud applications, mobile devices, and mobile apps in the business world. “If it makes my life easier and my work more productive, why should IT care?”  Let’s face it, we’ve all had these thoughts at some point in our lives.

This post is not on the subject of the opposition between users and their IT departments. I say let’s all live in peace and coexist the best we can. Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without the incredible help I receive from my IT guys. What really prompted this post is an article in Computerworld that I read a week ago. Business users bypass IT and go rogue to the cloud by Sharon Gaudin delivers an extremely valid point that security in the cloud must be a concern. Not just for your IT department, who may be fighting the good fight to protect your employer, but security in the cloud is a concern no matter how you look at it. Security has often been considered more of a nuisance by us users. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

So, whether you consider it a positive thing or fear it, employees at every level, from C-suite to administrative positions, are using cloud apps for all types of tasks including storing documents and files, exchanging information, and doing other things that make them more productive.

But every time a full-blown security breach happens revealing millions of users’ login credentials, this potentially impacts every enterprises across all industries. Here’s why - almost half of all people use the same user name and password for every account they have. This means that their login credentials for Twitter are the same as their login credentials for work. No one may want to access their tweets about boring weekend activities, but these same login credentials could give hackers a path to everything that they have access to at their work.

Consumer apps in the cloud were not built with security as the number one priority. They are simply not as secure as in-house enterprise applications inside the firewall. Cloud apps were designed to be convenient in the first place. The majority offer only static user name and password combinations as a means of security, which is really not so secure. So, maybe those IT guys really do know what they’re talking about.

John Gunn is OneSpan’s CMO and brings two decades of leadership experience in the IT security and software segments. Before joining OneSpan, John led the Security Solutions Group at Harland Clarke where he launched a popular SaaS consumer identity protection and anti-fraud solution.