With cloud apps, confusion abounds

IT has its hands full managing cloud apps, according to a recent survey – especially because there could be a major disconnect between IT’s knowledge of apps in the organization and reality. 

According to a recent Cloud Security Alliance report:

  • 54% of respondents believe there are fewer than 10 cloud apps running in their organizations, and
  • 18% estimate they have between 10 and 20.

However, that’s in sharp contrast to vendors estimates of 461 reported earlier this year.

Similarly, 59% of respondents believed that less than a quarter of their apps are in the cloud. But the study’s authors contrast that with a Ponemon study that found 45% of apps are cloud-based.

You can see why this confusion matters. If IT is getting a starkly different idea of how heavily invested in the cloud it is, there’s a good chance that either misinformation or shadow IT are at play.

Discrepancies need to be cleared up

It could be that one or both surveys aren’t accurate. But regardless of why there is confusion on this front, it’s important that IT have as realistic an idea of its cloud exposure as possible.

That means having not only an accurate picture of which cloud apps are supported by IT, but also those that may have been sanctioned by another department without your knowledge or are being accessed by users without permission of any kind.

To get a fuller picture:

  • Ask managers. Find out which programs they’ve found helpful for their departments. If they name one that you’re not aware of, find out if it should go through an approval process or if it should be banned for security reasons. (Hint: You’ll want to have a company-sanctioned alternative available if you need to ban a productive app.)
  • Ask users. Many aren’t even aware what a cloud app is, so you’ll want to be as broad as possible in your survey to determine what they’re using.
  • Govern behavior, not services. If you’re telling users not to use unapproved cloud apps, most will have no idea what you mean. Instead, say that they’re not allowed to use iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive or other cloud storage systems at work.
  • Rein in mobile. BYOD and mobile devices are major causes of cloud policy violations. Make sure your BYOD policy is up-to-date and covers which apps are available.

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