As cloud grows increasingly common, security concerns remain relevant

As cloud computing has become increasingly popular and widely used among businesses of all kinds, there has been a major drop in concern regarding cloud security. This is a major development, as cloud security has long been among the most-cited reasons why firms have hesitated to deploy cloud solutions. The more awareness of and experience with cloud solutions that decision-makers obtain, the less worried about this issue they tend to become.

However, it is important to note that cloud security concerns have not faded away entirely by any means. To take advantage of the continued rise of cloud services, business leaders need to remain aware of the issue of cloud security, as well as how to minimize threats.

Consumer-grade complications

One of the biggest dangers associated with cloud security, and one which companies of all kinds must be wary of, is the popularity of consumer-grade cloud services. These offerings, which are typically free to use, are extremely popular among consumers. The problem for businesses is that such offerings do not feature advanced, reliable security. Consequently, if these tools are deployed by employees at a given firm, an organization's cloud-stored data may be at risk.

Business leaders are widely aware of this issue. A recent study from Osterman Research and CTERA Networks found that approximately three-fourths of companies are concerned with the risks associated with consumer-grade cloud storage, as Cloud Tech contributor James Bourne reported. Only 5 percent of respondents said they were not at all worried about the dangers these solutions present.

The report further determined that employees's use of certain unapproved consumer-grade cloud solutions increased between May 2012 and January 2015, even though IT departments were more aware of the dangers posed by this trend in recent years.

Human error

Employee missteps are another risk of consumer-grade cloud solutions. 

For example, San Antonio Express-News contributor Ayad Baroum recently pointed out that cloud services can allow personnel to access corporate data via their mobile devices, without storing sensitive information on those devices themselves. This reduces the risk posed by a lost or stolen phone or tablet. At the same time, though, the writer noted that this scenario is only secure if employees are diligent in their use of passwords and other authentication measures. 

Unfortunately, workers frequently come up short in this capacity. Many personnel will tend to take shortcuts by either avoiding passwords altogether or relying on simple combinations that are vulnerable to cyberattacks, as Baroum noted.

Pursuing security

Despite the risks, it is important to recognize that both of these cloud security threats can be neutralized with the right strategies and resources. In the case of employees' tendency toward poor password use, companies should consider comprehensive training for their workers. Many personnel do not know cloud security best practices, nor do they realize how important these steps are for the company's overall success. 

As for consumer-grade cloud solutions, companies can minimize the risk posed by these resources simply by investing in enterprise-grade services that fulfill the same purpose, as Bourne pointed out. Companies typically only turn to consumer-grade cloud solutions when they lack officially sanctioned options. If a business turns to an established cloud services provider to address these needs, the appeal of consumer-grade cloud options all but evaporates.