Custom Enterprise Apps Posing Shadow Cloud Threats: CSA

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 16, 2017

cloud

Companies run around 70 percent of business-critical applications on an average day. But while almost 50 percent of custom software programs - often called shadow cloud applications - that are unknown to IT departments [and are in the public or hybrid cloud] are posing threats to organizations as IT security teams are only aware of a fraction of those apps.  In other words, commercial software-as-a-service applications aren’t the only source of shadow cloud woes, according to new research from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).

At the 8th Annual Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Summit at RSA in San Francisco, Skyhigh Networks provided striking details around widespread migration of custom or internally developed applications from corporate datacenters to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms such as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. The company unveiled a new survey, “Custom Applications and IaaS Report 2017.” Conducted in partnership with the CSA, the report provides striking details around widespread migration of custom or internally developed applications from corporate datacenters to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms such as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Almosty every company has developers writing custom code to improve engagement with employees, partners and customers. The average enterprise runs 464 custom applications and expects the number to grow 20.5 percent in the next 12 months. Yet IT security is aware of only 38.4 percent – a new and rapidly growing area of shadow computing. The stakes are high for preventing security compromises: 72.7 percent of companies have a custom application that, if it were to experience downtime, would significantly impact the organization’s ability to operate.

“Custom applications are a core part of how our business operates, and moving these to the cloud provides IT an opportunity to ‘start fresh’ with the right visibility, controls and overall security, without getting in the way of business operations,” said Stephen Ward, CISO, TIAA. “Meeting our security requirements for our applications, as well as our IaaS environment, is absolutely critical to accomplishing our business goals for cloud and overall software programs.”

The study notes that Cloud adoption is accelerating with the growth of software-as-a-service (SaaS) running at 10x the growth rate of IT in general and the growth rate of IaaS at 20x that of IT in general. In 2017, IaaS adoption will reach a tipping point because for the first time more custom applications will reside in public IaaS platforms than in corporate datacenters. Slightly more than half – 60.9 percent – of custom applications remain in corporate datacenters today, and this number is expected to decline to 46.2 percent in the next 12 months as enterprises continue to migrate applications to public IaaS platforms.

The two top reasons for moving to the cloud are scale and cost, and a majority (62.9 percent) of respondents believe public IaaS platforms are just as or more secure than their own datacenters.

Despite growing acceptance of public IaaS platforms, IT security departments face a host of new threats and challenges in the move to the cloud. Under cloud’s shared responsibility model, IaaS platforms secure the infrastructure but the enterprise is accountable for securing the corporate data, which includes protecting against compromised login credentials, rogue administrators and regulatory violations. These challenges are made more urgent by the fact that 46 percent of business-critical custom applications are already in the public or hybrid cloud today and by the rapidly approaching deadline for complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

According to the study, “Companies currently lack the expertise and tools to effectively deploy security for custom applications; 64.0 percent of respondents are moderately or very concerned about the security of custom applications deployed on a public IaaS platform.”

“Data center consolidation is one of the fastest growing trends in IT today as enterprises move their custom application workloads to public cloud providers,” said Rajiv Gupta, CEO, Skyhigh Networks. “As they do so, they will have to overcome the security, compliance and governance challenges unique to cloud.”

Recent high-profile cyber attacks have illustrated that corporate boards ultimately hold c-level executives responsible, and 29.1 percent of respondents believe the CIO and the CISO would lose their jobs in a catastrophic attack on a custom application. Over half, 50.3 percent, believe the IT security manager responsible for the application would be fired. Application developers are considered the least likely to face termination and only 23.3 are concerned about application security, signaling that IT security must take the initiative for custom application and IaaS security.

“The results of this survey provide an unfiltered view into the challenges companies and their IT security leadership are facing because of the exponential growth in cloud usage,” said Jim Reavis, CEO, CSA. “From custom applications to the infrastructure to the teams tasked with managing it all, we’re seeing a major evolution in how security needs to be more a focal point when it comes to planning for the increasingly complex needs of business.”