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August 5, 2015

Next-gen tech shapes cloud into security minefield

Personal cloud will be shaped by new wave of technologies like Windows 10.

By James Nunns

The growing use of personal cloud is helping to shape how employees operate across their digital lives.

Trends including increased access to personal information and increased intelligence applied to the user experience against the user’s information are what will shape the next wave of personal cloud.

This is according to Gartner, with Stephen Kleynhans, research VP, Gartner, saying: "The personal cloud is the collection of content, services and tools that users assemble to fulfil their personal digital lifestyle needs across any device. Each user’s personal cloud is unique and evolving, as the user’s daily needs change and as vendors and products come and go."

The growth of new technologies that allow things like apps to apply robust recognition algorithms to personal photos stored in the cloud is accelerating the rate of change.

Kleynhans goes on to say that thanks to new technologies like Windows 10, ubiquitous sensors, wearable and smart machines, the lines between consumer and enterprise computing are being blurred.

"By 2018, 25 per cent of large organisations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience."

According to the analyst firm, there will be three specific areas where the personal cloud will impact the organisation.

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Virtual personal assistants will emerge as a critical new service that will mask the differences between multiple services and apps.

An emerging area of impact is the access that these VPA’s have to not only personal data but also to potentially sensitive corporate data. It is expected that these will need to evolve to have different context, for example a personal one or a corporate one.

This evolution will enable IT to be able to exercise greater control over them and what they can access.

The Internet of Things and the growth of wearables will lead to an exponential expansion of each user’s personal cloud, this will result in challenges in overseeing security and privacy.

Sensors, beacons and wearable technology increasingly connect the physical world to the user’s personal cloud, which is further blurring the line between what is work and what is personal.

Gartner believes this is: "Exacerbating the security and privacy issues for both users and organisations. Security, particularly authentication, is increasingly critical to ensure the information is not falling into the wrong hands."

Ed Macnair, CEO at CensorNet, told CBR: "CIOs and IT departments are under increasing pressure to provide employees with reliable and secure web access across all devices, whilst controlling the use of cloud applications – all without compromising data security and preventing the spread of Shadow IT.

"Part of the reason the growth of cloud applications has posed such a challenge and threat to traditional web security is because often users are unaware of the risks associated with sharing and uploading information.

"Research has shown that 43 per cent of C-level executives say negligent insiders are the greatest threat to sensitive data. Instead of going through the red tape of IT procurement, provisioning, testing and security, employees are quick to download the latest app to access or share data.

"However, such a quick fix can have damaging implications on a company’s most valuable corporate assets – its intellectual property and brand reputation."

Finally, the firm expects that strong authentication technology will become increasingly important across personal clouds. These will help to form an overall data protection strategy that will cause end-user managers to re-think their current strategies.

Although stronger authentication technologies would only be the first step towards longer term approaches to securing personal and corporate data, the firm believes that they are an important first step in the chain.

Gartner, said: "Over the long term, this situation will change, and identity will be established in the device using strong multifactor methods, then used to establish secure sessions with various services."

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