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McAfee report shows cloud storage remains vulnerable to attack

30 Oct 18

McAfee released its Cloud Adoption and Risk Report, which analysed billions of events in anonymised customers production cloud use to assess the current state of cloud deployments and to uncover risks. 

The report revealed that nearly a quarter of the data in the cloud can be categorised as sensitive, putting an organisation at risk if stolen or leaked. 

Coupled with the fact that sharing sensitive data in the cloud has increased 53% YoY, those who do not adopt a cloud strategy that includes data loss protection, configuration audits and collaboration controls, will endanger the security of their most valuable asset—data—while exposing themselves to increased risk of noncompliance with internal and external regulations.

The study found that while organisations aggressively use the public cloud to create new digital experiences for their customers, the average enterprise experiences more than 2,200 misconfiguration incidents per month in their infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) instances. 

Cloud service providers only cover the security of the cloud itself, not customer data or customer use of their infrastructure and platforms. Companies are always responsible for securing their data wherever it is, hence highlighting the need to deploy cloud security solutions that span the whole cloud spectrum, from SaaS (software-as-a-service) to IaaS and PaaS.

“Operating in the cloud has become the new normal for organisations, so much so that our employees do not think twice about storing and sharing sensitive data in the cloud,” said Rajiv Gupta, senior vice president of the Cloud Security Business, McAfee. 

“Accidental sharing, collaboration errors in SaaS cloud services, configuration errors in IaaS/PaaS cloud services, and threats are all increasing.”

“In order to continue to accelerate their business, organisations need a cloud-native and frictionless way to consistently protect their data and defend from threats across the spectrum of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.”

Cloud services bring a momentous opportunity to accelerate business through their ability to quickly scale, allowing businesses to be agile with their resources and provide new opportunities for collaboration. 

Cloud services like Box and productivity suites like Office 365 are used to increase the fluidity and effectiveness of collaboration. However, collaboration means sharing, and uncontrolled sharing can expose sensitive data. Findings demonstrate that:

1. Twenty-two per cent of cloud users share files externally, up 21% YoY.

2. Sharing sensitive data with an open, publicly accessible link has increased by 23% YoY.

3. Sensitive data sent to a personal email address also increased by 12% YoY.

To secure sensitive data in cloud storage, file-sharing and collaboration applications, organisations must first understand which cloud services are in use, hold their sensitive data, and how that data is being shared and with whom. 

Once organisations have gained this visibility, they can then enforce appropriate security policies to prohibit highly sensitive data from being stored in unapproved cloud services and provide guardrails that prevent noncompliant sharing of sensitive data from approved cloud services, such as when data is shared with personal email addresses or through an open, public link.