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Intermedia Shares 2014's Top Cloud IT Pitfalls - and 2015's Key Risks

A Contributed Article by Michael Gold, president of Intermedia

2014's Top Cloud IT Pitfalls - and 2015's Key Risks

2014 was a year of incredible growth in business cloud apps. But it also saw a slew of security challenges.

As even more companies embrace the cloud in 2015 (IDC has predicted that businesses will spend $127 billion on public cloud services by 2018), the risks associated with the cloud will also grow and evolve.

To help businesses arm themselves for the dangers ahead, it will be important to look back at the valuable lessons they can learn from the notable cloud IT downfalls of 2014, and to consider the growing trends that are certain to make headlines in 2015.

2014's Cloud IT Lessons Learned

1.  Businesses juggle too many cloud apps. The cloud was predicted to end IT complexity, but with an average of 14.3 cloud apps per business, IT administrators were overwhelmed by the number of accounts they had to manage on a day-to-day basis. The lesson? Make 2015 the year to prioritize consolidating functionality and vendors-as opposed to just adding more apps.

2.  Threat response by providers is the new security differentiator. The security bug Heartbleed and the Sony breach, among many others, were high profile issues that reinforced the notion that you can't take any form of security for granted, nor can you assume that if something is secure today that it will be secure tomorrow. The lesson is that businesses must evaluate their cloud providers' security levels on new criteria: the technologies they use to keep private data secure, their response time, their transparency about risks, their disclosure policies, and even on their organizational hierarchy (is there a VP of security, for example?). New vulnerabilities will be discovered-so what really matters is how your provider responds to them.

3.  Too many people have access to company accounts. "Access creep" is a huge risk for companies: from the US Dept. of Education's failed attempt at humor to Uber's misuse of customer data, there's now a clear need for limitations on who can access company applications and from which devices, as well as for more controls over what they can do with them.

4.  Your phones are at risk, too. While everyone worries about computer security, your phones are a dangerous vector, too. Phone hacking cost one Georgia architecture company $166,000 in a single weekend this year. In fact, phone hacking cost businesses nearly $5 billion in 2013. The lesson is to be cautious with anything connected to the Internet, including mobile devices accessing company systems, not just computers.

2015: The Cloud IT Threats to Watch for

1.  The new major security threat will be ex-employees. A 2014 study found that 89% of ex-employees retained at least one login and password from their former employer. This may be one reason why the FBI warned that "disgruntled and former employees pose a significant cyber threat to US businesses."

2.  99.9% uptime will no longer be enough. As an increasing number of businesses transition to the cloud, 99.9% uptime guarantees will no longer be enough-not when that adds up to 8 hours of downtime a year. 99.999% uptime service level agreement (which promise less than 26 seconds of downtime a month) will become the new norm for cloud services providers.

3.  Mobile device management will become a priority. As more employees work remotely and the BYOD trend increases, businesses will see a growing need for syncing tools, remote wipes, and other ways to protect or restore data-especially when you consider the ex-employee menace mentioned above.

4.  IT will finally consolidate providers. A study from Capgemini found that nearly half of CIOs believe that they are working with more app vendors than they need-which is pretty significant when you consider the time each app demands of IT admins for security, integration, mobility, billing and, worst of all, endlessly adding, removing and changing user and device settings. In 2015, it will become increasingly important for companies to consolidate providers to more effectively manage their entire cloud.

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About the Author

Michael Gold is president of Intermedia (www.intermedia.net), a one-stop shop for cloud business applications. Its Office in the CloudTM suite integrates essential IT services that SMBs need to do business, including email, voice, file syncing and sharing, conferencing, instant messaging, identity access and management, mobility, security and archiving. Intermedia serves over 60,000 businesses and has more than 5,000 active partners, including VARs, MSPs, telcos and cable companies.
Published Wednesday, January 07, 2015 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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