Cloud-based technology is a threat to business

 

The rise of consumer, cloud-based, technology poses a significant threat for the enterprise.

Workplace usage of cloud-based tools like Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote is surging, with serious security and compliance consequences for the enterprise.

According to a recent report by Netskope, 92% of cloud apps were identified as not ‘enterprise-ready’, lacking the security, audit and certification capabilities required for safe workplace use.

Yet the non-sanctioned use of such applications is proliferating. And it’s easy to see why.

Today’s consumer cloud applications empower workers to circumvent the IT department altogether.

Easy to acquire and deploy, non-technical employees may select products or configurations that don’t measure up to corporate standards for data protection and encryption.

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Such users typically won’t realise that using such applications increases the risk of security breaches and data loss that can hurt the company.

The reasons why workers will turn to non-approved applications are simple.

Familiarity with popular consumer apps means they can get things done fast, and it should be no surprise to the IT department that intuitive and easy-to-utilise interfaces prove popular with general users.

Failure to leverage solutions that keep employees focused and satisfied results in the proliferation of shadow IT that’s difficult to monitor or manage.

For employees, it’s genuinely all about getting on with the job in hand in the most productive way possible.

That means not grappling for hours with a complex ‘corporately approved’ application that doesn’t meet their needs.

In other words, non-approved apps are being used to fill a productivity gap or circumvent cumbersome solutions that don’t deliver against user expectations.

To support workplace productivity, rather than hinder it, IT departments should be leveraging software solutions that offer intuitive and seamless user experiences for both workers and IT administrators.

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Web-accessible features can simplify authentication, access and use and provide familiar interaction features and efficient workflows users have come to expect from their tools.

Menus that are easy to navigate responsive and tailored to user access rights will deliver the customised user experience that works well for workers and IT admins.

Data intensive applications should offer presentation methods appropriate to the task in hand.

For example, providing lists and tables if multi-item comparisons are needed, or icons and tiles to support direct interactions is more direct data manipulation is required.

Leveraging the strengths of both technology and end users can prove a winning combination.

For example, solutions that present data content in graphically arranged objects – like a map – will support users looking to pick out and recognise visual patterns and identify meaning from complex interactions.

Applications should be fit-for-purpose and support users to be productive.

So, if a dynamic system is designed to deliver real-time data insights, then data should automatically refresh and be presented via a dashboards, so that users can tell what’s happening at a glance.

It goes without saying that  and enforcing transparent usage policies that make sense to employees.

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Communicating openly with users is just the start.

Understanding why users feel obliged to turn to non-sanctioned applications can help IT identify where changes need to be made, ensuring that approved applications aren’t difficult to work with and deliver against all users expectations.

Closing the gap between the disparate experiences of IT administrators and end users will be critical.

If users favour a popular consumer app that doesn’t meet enterprise standards for security or compliance, then ideally the IT department should look to provide a reasonable alternative that is intuitive for employees to use.

Finally, ensuring the workforce understands the risk of using non-sanctioned cloud apps for work – and the benefits of using apps from the approved list – can help to prevent workers going rogue and working in the cloud beyond the reach or knowledge of IT.

Sourced by Michael Hack, SVP EMEA Operations at Ipswitch

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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