Personal clouds are becoming ever-present. Apple bundle iCloud in with every iPhone and iPad they sell, Google provide Google Drive with every Android device and email account, and DropBox is becoming a popular choice for individuals who want to sync their home documents across desktops, laptops and mobile devices.
Like BYOD, the rise of personal cloud storage is having an impact on how IT departments operate, and opening up potential security holes for business operations. For example how many employees are uploading business files into a cloud account, to work on them at home?
A new Osterman Research paper (‘Managing BYOD in Corporate Environments’) highlights the use of personal cloud solutions in the business world. Focusing on the most popular cloud storage providers, their research found that in some companies over 40% of employees are using their personal cloud space.
|Cloud service used (without IT’s blessing)|
|Up to 99 employees||21%|
|100 – 999 employees||31%|
|Up to 99 employees||20%|
|100 – 999 employees||23%|
|Up to 99 employees||20%|
|100 – 999 employees||27%|
|Up to 99 employees||7%|
|100 – 999 employees||17%|
|Cloud service used (without IT’s blessing)||Up to 99 employees||100 – 999 employees||1000+ employees|
It’s clear a lot of employees are using their own cloud solutions, and in many cases their IT departments have no knowledge.
Why are cloud services popular?
The report highlights several reasons why cloud storage and syncing services are popular with employees:
- Ease-of-use — Cloud services are designed to be as simple to use as possible, making it easy for employees to add files.
- Email attachment limits — Some companies place low limits on the size of email attachments, so employees choose cloud storage rather than emailing work files to a home email address.
- No outside access to work networks — Understandably, businesses lock-down their internal networks. Whilst this is good security practice it means employees who want to work from home are ‘pushed’ towards personal cloud providers in order to carry on working.
The Dangers of the public cloud
Once a file is in a personal cloud service it is outside the control of your information policies. Confidential data could be shared publically, and fall into the hands of your competitors, or the business may come under scrutiny of the Information Commissioner’s Office (for potential Data Protection Act breaches).
To prevent data breaches, IT departments need to bring control of cloud storage in-house. That doesn’t mean the data needs storing on an in-house server, or, even worse, they should stop employees using cloud solutions at all. Instead companies should investigate cloud solutions they can monitor, with access to documents provided in a controlled way; limiting who can access particular files.
Simply Mail Solutions provide a selection of cloud storage options including OneDrive for Business as part of Microsoft Offie 365. With OneDrive for Business organisations can provide fully secure, managed cloud storage with integration for Exchange email and Office applications.