Cloud File Storage Can Be a Shadow Threat

August 2, 2016 @ 8:00 AM
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2 min read

Blue Coat Elastica Cloud Threat Labs released the latest edition of the Shadow Data Report on cloud file storage, which covers the first half of 2016.

The research focused on the risks enterprises face when they adopt popular cloud file storage and sharing apps. Researchers analyzed more than 15,000 enterprise cloud apps as well as 108 million enterprise documents stored and shared within these apps.

They also considered the types of data that enterprises will expose in this kind of cloud use. The report found that most apps fail to achieve compliance with common but recently adopted U.S. and European standards, such as SOC 2 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Cloud File Storage in the Shadows

The report declared that shadow data, which refers to “unmanaged content employees store and share across cloud apps,” Blue Coat stated, poses a “major threat.” It also found that 23 percent of this shadow content was being “broadly shared among employees and external parties.” Even a sanctioned app — such as Microsoft Office, for example — can be misused by an employee.

Surprisingly, the report also found that organizations run about 20 times more cloud apps than they estimate. Most use an average of 841 across their extended networks.

“The vast majority of business cloud apps we analyzed do not meet enterprise standards for security and can put companies at risk for compromise, even though virtually every enterprise uses them,” said Aditya Sood, Ph.D., director of security and Elastica Cloud Threat Labs at Blue Coat. “Understanding which cloud applications your employees are adopting and using is an important step to identifying which apps are business ready and which apps need to be replaced with more secure alternatives.”

Failing to Meet SOC 2 and GDPR

Blue Coast also judged that “95 percent of enterprise-class cloud apps are not SOC 2 compliant.” That could be true, especially since SOC 2 is not yet widely implemented.

The 2016 report now includes analysis into whether apps are meeting the stringent GDPR guidelines currently being rolled out in the EU. It found that 98 percent are not ready for GDPR. As with SOC 2, no criteria for these judgments was evidenced in the report.

Meaningful changes in the cloud storage of data can only help an enterprise trying to determine its security perimeter with more effectiveness.

Larry Loeb
Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE mag...
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