IT managers are finding it difficult to keep their applications and data safe in the cloud, and many are slowing cloud adoption because of it.
That was one of the findings of an Intel cloud security report that surveyed 2,000 IT professionals in different countries and industries last fall.
The issue isn't with the cloud itself, since trust outnumbers distrust for public clouds by more than two to one, according to Intel's survey.
IT professionals told Intel that shadow IT and a shortage of cybersecurity skills are causing the most problems.
The study showed that 49% of IT professionals said they have slowed cloud adoption because of a lack of cybersecurity skills, and 65% say shadow IT is interfering with keeping the cloud safe and secure.
"I think people have bought the story that the cloud is a panacea to them," said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX. "They think it must be good because the cloud is the hot thing right now. What I've found in my research is that real data center folks aren't that enthusiastic about the cloud, and they don't think it's more secure."
Olds agreed with the survey results that the problem is largely coming from shadow IT, or employees who skirt around their company's IT department to set up applications on their own.
"This problem goes directly back to shadow IT," he said. "You're in a marketing unit and you want a cool application up. Rather than going through IT, you just go out and buy it in the cloud. You're going around IT. That can cause a lot of problems. Companies need to get this under control."
Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz & Associates, said IT shops should pump the brakes when it comes to jumping on to the cloud, and they should think through all of the security implications.
"IT is traditionally skeptical about security issues with the cloud," Hurwitz said. "They are right to reserve judgment. Not all clouds are the same. Some are more secure than others. IT gets the blame if something goes wrong."
And company executives need to make it clear that shadow IT is harmful to the company and won't be tolerated, Olds said.
"First they need real IT to say, 'We will help you,' and then they need to say there will be penalties for going around them," he added. "The penalties need to be significant."
IT needs to take charge of the cloud, especially since the Intel study showed that 62% of the companies surveyed store sensitive customer information in the public cloud.
"Companies might look back and find they've gone too far with the cloud and are paying too much for cloud services they have too little control over," Olds said. "I think companies need to understand all the applications they have on premises and on the cloud, and develop some criteria for what can go out on the public cloud and what should never go out to the public cloud."
The report was released at the RSA security conference in San Francisco.
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