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Should Australian organisations rely on public cloud vendors for security?

27 Jun 2019

According to a new CyberArk survey, as organisations increasingly move critical applications, regulated customer data and development work into public cloud environments, 36 per cent of global organisations say the number one benefit for moving workloads to the cloud is to offload security risk.

This is despite many public cloud providers providing straightforward guidance on their shared responsibility models for security and compliance in cloud environments.

The results are part of the newly-released CyberArk Global Advanced Threat Landscape Report 2019: Focus on Cloud.

“The risks caused by a lack of clarity about who is responsible for security in the cloud is compounded by an overall failure by organisations to secure privileged access in these environments,” said CyberArk EVP Adam Bosnian.

“Despite the often sensitive and highly regulated data being stored in the cloud, it was surprising to see that less than half of organisations don’t have a strategy in place for securing privileges in the cloud, a finding that remains unchanged since our last report.”

As organisations utilise the cloud to accelerate digital transformation, there must be greater awareness of where potential security risks exist:

  • 49 per cent of respondents migrate business critical applications (i.e., ERP, CRM or financial management) into the public cloud.
  • 45 per cent store customer data subject to regulatory oversight in the public cloud.
  • 39 per cent use the public cloud for internal development, including DevOps.
  • 75 per cent rely on the cloud provider’s built-in security, despite half (50 per cent) of this number recognising cloud providers’ built-in security is not sufficient.

Privileged Access is the Greatest Cloud Security Concern

According to the survey, the greatest security concerns in public cloud usage are:

  • Insiders, partners and contractors with privileged access (46 per cent).
  • Unauthorised access to cloud management consoles (46 per cent).
  • Shared credentials across compute storage or application instances (44 per cent).

The problem becomes critical when unsecured and unmanaged credentials provide privileged access, which can enable attackers to escalate privileges and gain elevated access within cloud infrastructure. According to the survey:

  • A majority of organisations (62 per cent) are unaware that credentials, secrets and privileged accounts exist in IaaS and PaaS environments.
  • Only 49 per cent currently have a privileged access security strategy in place for cloud infrastructure and workloads.
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