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Cloud data breaches and cloud complexity on the rise

The 2022 Thales Cloud Security Report, conducted by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, reports that even though cloud and notably multi-cloud adoption remains on the rise, 37% of respondents from India have experienced a cloud-based data breach or failed audit in the past 12 months, up from the previous year (33%) .

Despite security concerns, cloud adoption however continues to grow across India and the globe. In 2021, organisations worldwide were using an average amount of 110 software as a service (SaaS) applications , compared with just eight in 2015, showcasing a startlingly rapid increase. There has been a notable expansion in the use of multiple Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers, with almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses globally using multiple IaaS providers, up from 57% the year before. The use of multiple providers has almost doubled in the last year, with one in five (20%) of global respondents reporting using three or more providers.

Despite their increasing prevalence and use, businesses share common concerns about the increasing complexity of cloud services with 40% of IT professionals from India agreeing that it is more complex to manage privacy and data protection in the cloud. Additionally, the journey to the cloud is also becoming more complex, with the percentage of respondents reporting that they’re expecting to lift and shift, the simplest of migration tactics, dropping from 55% in 2021 to 24% currently. This stands true for respondents in India as well with the figure standing at 23% presently.

Security challenges of multi-cloud complexity
With increasing complexity comes an even greater need for robust cybersecurity. When asked what percentage of their sensitive data is stored in the cloud, 46% of respondents in India said between 21-60%.

Nearly a third (32%) of respondents worldwide admitted to having to issue a breach notification to a government agency, customer, partner, or employees. This should be a cause for concern among enterprises with sensitive data, particularly in highly regulated industries.

Cyber-attacks also present an ongoing risk to cloud applications and data. Respondents around the globe reported an increasing prevalence of attacks, with a quarter (26%) citing an increase in malware, 25% in ransomware and one-fifth (19%) reporting seeing an increase in phishing/ whaling.

Protecting sensitive data
When it comes to securing data in multi-cloud environments, IT professionals from India view encryption as a critical security control. 65% of respondents cited encryption and 56% stated key management as the security technologies they currently use to protect sensitive data in the cloud.

However, when asked what percentage of their data in the cloud is encrypted, only one in ten (11%) of respondents said between 81-100% is encrypted. The same stands true globally as well. Additionally, key management platform sprawl may be an issue for enterprises. Globally, only 10% of respondents use one to two platforms, 90% use three or more, and almost one in five (17%) admitted using eight or more platforms.

Encryption should be a priority area for enterprises to focus on when it comes to securing data in the cloud. In fact, 40% of respondents worldwide stated that they were able to avoid the breach notification process because the stolen or leaked data was encrypted or tokenised, showcasing the tangible value of encryption platforms.

Additionally, it is encouraging to see signs of enterprises embracing Zero Trust and investing accordingly. Almost a third of respondents in India (31%) said they are already executing a Zero Trust strategy, 29% said that they are evaluating and planning one and, 20% said they are considering it. This is a positive result, but there is certainly still room to grow.

Ashish Saraf, VP and Country Director – India, Thales, comments: “Multi-cloud environments are becoming the new norm for businesses in India. The journey to the cloud is also becoming more complex. Businesses are still learning and adapting to the security challenges of operating in the multi-cloud ecosystem. It is important for organizations to constantly adapt to this rapidly changing environment and stay on top of the evolving trends of the industry.

With the increased use of the cloud, data across the world, including from India, has become vulnerable to breaches. According to the report, 37% of respondents in India have experienced a cloud-based data breach or failed audit in the last year. This emphasises the importance of using strategies such as encryption, key management, multi-factor authentication and tokenization among others, to address the increasing complexity of cloud security. All stakeholders must work together to ensure a zero-trust journey for all and address the existing challenges of multi-cloud adaptation.”

Sebastien Cano, Senior Vice President for Cloud Protection and Licensing activities at Thales said: “The complexity of managing multi-cloud environments cannot be overstated. Additionally, the growing importance of data sovereignty is increasingly raising questions for CISOs and Data Protection Officers when considering their cloud strategy, governance, and risk management. The challenge is not only where the sensitive data resides geographically, but even who has access to sensitive data inside the organisation.

There are various solutions such as encryption and key management. Last but not least, continuing to embrace a Zero Trust strategy will be essential in securing these complex environments, helping to ensure organisations can support their data and manage future challenges.”

CT Bureau

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