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The Cost of Securing and Using Cloud Storage

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The Cost of Securing and Using Cloud Storage

July 29, 2014
By Casey Houser
Contributing Writer

Cloud storage services are popping up everywhere, and the security that underlies these services can range from excellent to questionable. This understandably has IT security professionals worried because more and more individuals are finding ways to transfer some of their work-related information to these locations.

Although they can provide instant access to data from any location, cloud data storage comes with various risks. Largely, such risks include the encryption of data as it is being transferred and the encryption of data where it is stored. Those two protections can keep sensitive information away from malcontents; however, storage services, especially those that separate free and premium content, do not always employ the strictest of standards.

Individuals desire connections with these services through their mobile devices, so to help control the flow of sensitive business-related data, IT departments are fighting back with the use of mobile device management and enterprise mobility management software. These sorts of programs allow businesses to control how their employees connect to their private networks, how they access corporate programs, and how they view and save data that travels across their networks. They can even dictate, through the programs that users are allowed to run, how employees can connect to each other and share files through data transfer apps, messaging programs, and apps that provide collaborative capabilities.

Tech Target (News - Alert) reflects on these points in a recent two-part blog post that discusses the limitations and capabilities of MDM and EMM software. Ultimately, IT administrators will find that proper use of such software can be restricting and may not account for every operating system users can bring to the table. This may end up causing adoption woes within a BYOD-style framework.

It can also cause headaches for users who are accustomed to having access to all their favorite apps through their mobile devices. For instance, mobile users working within MDM restrictions may be allowed to access corporate file storage through predetermined work portals, but public services such as Dropbox (News - Alert) may be blacklisted. Users who want to store all their files in a single location will be hard pressed to decide between where to place their personal data because, if they choose the work-related storage system (assuming they are allowed to do so), they will be taking on the personal hazard of mixing personal life with work life.

IT admins can make individuals lives somewhat easier by using MDM software that allows users to access certain parts of their phones in a "sandbox" environment, which separates business apps from personal apps. Sandbox containers, such as Samsung (News - Alert)'s Knox, can manage the secure storage of local files as well as manage email apps, Web browsing apps, and other corporate apps all alongside the use of MDM software.

Any route IT takes will likely give both them and their users headaches to a certain point. Employees will likely push back against overly-restrictive policies, but there may be no way to enforce data control at this time that does not inconvenience one party or another. Businesses must make policies clear. Employees must understand and agree to those policies. MDM can protect businesses only to the extent that their device management programs work and their employees agree not to abuse their powers within those systems.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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