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According to the survey one in five are using cloud applications that aren't managed by their IT departments

According to the survey one in five are using cloud applications that aren’t managed by their IT departments

C-level executives are less concerned with security and more likely to bring cloud applications and services into their businesses – even against the policies of their own businesses, according to a survey published Wednesday. And in tandem with the phenomenon of shadow IT (users bringing their own tech into the business) challenging information security, these C-level executives should act to catalyse their businesses’ embrace of new technologies.

The survey, conducted by technology incubator SafeNet Labs, included responses from 304 IT decision makers globally and sheds light on shifting attitudes towards cloud storage security among C-level executives, IT departments and the broader employee base within enterprises.

According to SafeNet Labs 52 per cent of business professionals surveyed still claim to be concerned about security when it comes to using cloud-based applications or data in the cloud – a decline from similar surveys conducted earlier this year. Nevertheless, 64 per cent of respondents report frequently using cloud-based applications to store personal and corporate data, with Dropbox coming out as the most popular service among enterprise users.

Interestingly the survey also shows that the higher a person is on the corporate ladder, the greater the likelihood that they are using cloud-based file sharing services – despite corporate policies against using such services. A majority respondents reported that their businesses (52 per cent) require internal networks be used to share and storing corporate data, but one in five respondents said they use services like Box or Dropbox despite corporate policies that forbid using these kinds of services at the office.

And among that group, 33 per cent of C-level executives admitted they go against their own corporate policies, compared with 18 per cent for “associates,” which suggests that C-level execs may be among the most practiced of shadow IT users.

The C-suite also seems to be less concerned with security than others within enterprises, with 39 per cent of C-level executives surveyed citing security fears when it comes to using cloud services when compared to 53 per cent of “associates.”

“What this survey suggests is that cloud app usage and document storage continue to proliferate, and that organizations should reexamine antiquated attitudes towards usage of these apps across the enterprise,” said Tsion Gonen, chief strategy officer at SafeNet.

Because IT administrators can’t easily manage the way data is shared on unsupported applications and platforms enterprises continue to risk their company’s intellectual property if they don’t move fast enough to formally govern the apps and services employees bring into their organisations. Resistance to new IT systems  may come from a variety of pockets within businesses but Gonen says that C-level executives (not just CIOs) are in an ideal position to act as catalysts for change and influence their businesses to embrace what their employees including themselves use.

“Whether or not C-levels are the biggest practitioners of shadow IT, shadow IT is a reality and for very good reasons – business reasons. The best proof of this is that several of the largest shadow IT successes starts with the C-suite; it started with the CEO’s iPad, evolved to M&A groups using Dropbox as a deal e-room, and business unit leaders launching new products on AWS without ever calling IT. Business executives know the truth – often times it’s faster and cheaper to build your own IT,” Gonen says.

“It’s clear that top-level executives understand the advantages of cloud app usage, and should enable their companies to leverage these advantages by adopting contemporary security tools and practices.”

Laurent Lachal, senior analyst in Ovum’s software group agrees with the findings of the survey. He says that a cloud-centric approach to file sharing and storage is very useful, particularly as businesses begin to see enterprise-grade services come to market.

“The benefit of a cloud-centric approach to file sharing and storage is that you have the element of enhanced reporting – with traditional internal file storage, you simply can’t track who is storing what when, or sharing what with whom. But some of the cloud-based solutions out there today allow enterprise IT administrators to keep much better tabs on corporate information,” Lachal said.

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