Report: IT is blocking the wrong cloud computing services

In an effort to keep data safe, many IT departments block access to unsafe cloud computing services that users may try to sign up for on their own. But a recent survey shows that many companies are letting high-risk applications be used unchecked. 

IT is more often focused on blocking popular storage and streaming services, rather than lesser-known applications that may present a much higher risk, according to a recent report from security vendor SkyHigh Networks.

The firm looked at 300 companies and what services they were blocking. The most-blocked cloud computing applications included storage applications like Box, DropBox and Applie iCloud, as well as other services such as Netflix, FourSquare, Skype and Gmail.

For the storage services, companies are likely worried about users uploading sensitive company documents that might be stolen in a data breach. But for the others, the most likely motivation for blocking them is to preserve bandwidth or to keep productivity high.

SkyHigh found that companies were more likely to block those services than others that present a higher level of security risk, including filesharing services such as SendSpace, RapidGator and WeTransfer. Services classified as low-risk were blocked 40% more often than the high-risk tools, according to the report.

Be careful where you send users

While Dropbox, iCloud and other popular consumer-level storage services do present risks, they’re nothing compared to those lesser-known tools, which often don’t use encryption and other security protections. Many also host data outside the U.S. and could be more vulnerable to breaches.

Blocking services is a tricky way to go, because there will always be new options for users and some of them may be worse than what the company chose to block.

The real danger, according to the report, is that companies will block a popular and somewhat risky tool and cause users to turn to an even more dangerous alternative.

Many experts say the best bet is to find out tools employees want to use and then find ways to offer that functionality in a secure manner.

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