Cloud computing overload: How many apps is too many?

As the use of cloud apps increases, security is lagging behind.

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Cloud computing apps have been the glue that has enabled many organisations to remain connected and keep operating during the ongoing period of enforced remote working. With staff banned from the office, they need to be able to use applications that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.

Overall spending on IT is likely to decline this year as firms try to cut costs, but cloud computing is likely to be one software category where spending remains strong.

However, securing the corporate data within the wide range of cloud apps in service is a challenge. According to research by Thales Europe, nearly half (46%) of all data stored by European organisations is now stored in the cloud, of which a similar proportion (43%) is described as 'sensitive'. Only half of this sensitive data (54%) is protected by some form of encryption, despite around a quarter of companies admitting to a breach in the past year.

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The complexity of cloud environments – including the use of multiple cloud services – is affecting data security, the research found. Four out of five companies have two or more infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers, while the vast majority (86%) have more than 11 software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, and a third have more than 50.

Businesses also identified a lack of budget (30%), staff to manage (28%) and organisation buy-in/low priority (25%) as other top blockers to data security.

As well as struggling with existing problems, some companies are also concerned about quantum computing, which could create new threats to their data security: one in three are looking to switch away from static encryption or symmetric cryptography, while a similar proportion are looking at key management with quantum-safe random number generator support.