Viral Spread of Cloud Creates New Challenges


This blog post is the second in a series on Data Protection issues and practical solutions.

Data Protection SeriesAs discussed in a recent TechRepublic Blog Post, cloud computing vendors are enabling the spread of on-demand software outside the control of the IT Department.

It is easy to see how it happens.  Somebody signs up for a service in order to complete a task that they cannot (or do not know the can) do with their current system.  They share the solution with co-workers, and, before you can say monthly recurring fee, the company must decide if this new tool is a de facto standard and should be included in the formal IT ecosystem.

Aside: On the one hand, shame on the users for not asking first.  On the other hand, shame on IT for not understanding the users’ needs and providing solutions with either current or new technologies.

The challenge becomes managing these services and making sure they are secure.  Beyond deciding who, why, and when services may be used, these services may create real security risks.

In the Google Apps environment, users can install any one of hundreds of third-party applications, many of which request and require access to user data.  While most applications only request and use the access they need, many request permissions that can inadvertently expose critical data such as sensitive documents and contact information.

Solutions

To mitigate these risks, it is important for the IT team to review and evaluate all new applications and companies should have policies through which they can enforce this rule.  In return, the IT team must be held accountable for responsiveness.

In addition, it is wise to monitor your environment for new software.  For you in-house systems, free tools like Spiceworks, will update you with scheduled scans of all systems.

Within your Google Apps ecosystem, Cloudlock App Firewall, provides you with the ability to both monitor and manage which applications are running in your environment.  The App Firewall reports the level of data exposure by application and reports applications added by user and well as by application.  You can mark applications as approved, blocked or not trusted.  You can revoke permissions, effectively disabling applications as well.    The system also provides guidance, letting you know how other companies have rated applications.

Conclusion

While users will continue to look for apps, the IT team can and should be ahead of the curve.  Additional tools, however, can help monitor and manage applications, which will mitigate risk, enforce company policies, and meet regulatory requirements for data protection.

 

For more information about Cloudlock App Firewall, please contact us.

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