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One third of UK firms ban staff from using public cloud services, reports Connected Data

Despite one third of UK firms banning public cloud from the workplace, its use appears endemic, unmanaged and unstoppable, according to Connected Data.

Despite one third of UK firms banning public cloud from the workplace, its use appears endemic, unmanaged and unstoppable, according to a new survey commissioned by Connected Data.

The survey of 100 UK businesses revealed stark concerns about the safety of the public cloud services, such as DropBox, Box and Amazon for sharing confidential data. However, despite this caution, the findings demonstrate that most employees’ activity via these platforms generally goes unmonitored and unchecked in 64 per cent of businesses.

The vast majority (90 per cent) of IT decision makers believe that sharing sensitive data in the public cloud poses some level of risk.

However, despite this inherent mistrust, only one third (33 per cent) have banned staff from using public cloud. Of the firms that do ban the use of public cloud at work, over half (58 per cent) admit they would not know whether their employees are using it anyway.

Other key findings include:

• Over two thirds (69 per cent) of businesses questioned believed that public cloud services were being used by some proportion of their workforce regardless of company policy (with 29 per cent suspecting over half their employees of doing so)

• More than a quarter (27 per cent) rank use of public cloud as the greatest risk to their company data, above lost devices (25 per cent), hacking (14 per cent) and malicious staff behaviour (18 per cent)

• Meanwhile, well over a tenth (13 per cent) of UK firms admitted they had lost or had confidential data exposed due to staff sharing it via public cloud. Worse, an additional 19 per cent could not be certain whether this had happened to their business or not.

The survey results go on to reveal that little is being done to protect organisations or staff against careless behaviour.

• Nearly half (48 per cent) of those companies, which believe they are at risk, have not added guidelines to a staff manual

• Even fewer firms provide training (36 per cent) or tools (39 per cent) on the topic of file and data sharing

Staff at UK firms who break rules about public cloud usage in the workplace could be in for a big shock. More than a fifth (22 per cent) of the firms interviewed said staff would be instantly dismissed for using public cloud while 40 per cent would issue staff a written warning.

The survey also looked at the drivers behind cloud usage. It found that the main reason employees risk using the public cloud is because they need to access files across devices (54 per cent). Ease of use was considered the second highest driver (48 per cent).

Dr. Geoff Barrall, CEO of Connected Data, commented, “While we shouldn’t be overly surprised at the levels of mistrust in public cloud, we should be concerned by a growing pattern of employee behaviour that puts sensitive company data at risk. Penalties to staff are serious, yet the need to share files across different devices is leading them to break company policy and put their jobs on the line. The survey highlights how important it is to address this dilemma before more company data is lost or exposed.”

The survey coincides with the UK launch of Transporter for Business (pictured), the industry’s first private cloud appliance from Connected Data. Transporter for Business allows users to sync and share files privately. By offering employees the cloud features they enjoy and require, Transporter eliminates the temptation to use unauthorised public cloud solutions that could put sensitive business information at risk.

Barrall concluded: “Whilst we know employee behaviour cannot be changed overnight, there is a way to keep data safe and give employees the work tools they need. Private cloud solutions enable companies to take full responsibility by protecting their sensitive data whilst enabling their employees to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.”