Is your enterprise cloud technology advancing faster than your company’s security protocols can keep up? Moving applications and data to the cloud offers a number of benefits, including increased productivity, reduced infrastructure requirements and lower maintenance costs. Unfortunately, this transition can also create new vulnerabilities that expose your business to a host of cyber threats.

The more widespread cloud usage becomes within a company, the faster information is shared between people and across devices– and the more commonplace it becomes to use cloud storage and applications. Frequent usage coupled with a false sense of security or a lackadaisical approach to network authentication could leave your business’s most private data vulnerable to cybercriminals.

Last November, McAfee Labs released its predictions for top cybersecurity threats in 2017, including cloud security challenges. The report highlighted enterprise vulnerabilities with cloud storage of intellectual property, antiquated authentication, cloud access security brokers (CASBs) and ransomware concerns. If your company has not done so already, now is the time to get serious about hardening network security against cloud attacks.

These are three top cloud security issues to address in 2017:

1. Continued risk from antiquated authentication systems.
Hackers who steal admin credentials for cloud systems can gain access to hundreds or thousands of customer databases and workloads. In 2017, McAfee predicts security vendors will introduce more complex biometric security protocols, expanding beyond fingerprints to unique factors such as irises, faces and even heartbeats. In the meantime, re-evaluate your existing authentication protocols and ensure that any device on which corporate data is synchronized has fundamental security measures in place, including passcodes and encryption.

2. CASBs emerging as the must-have security solution for cloud-based app usage.
A cloud access security broker (CASB) is a category of security tools that act as a “gatekeeper” between your organization’s on-premise infrastructure and the cloud provider’s infrastructure. CASBs are designed to consolidate multiple types of security – credential mapping, device profiling, encryption, malware detection/prevention, tokenization, single sign-on, etc. – under a single security enforcement umbrella. CASBs work by ‘proxying’ traffic between the cloud apps your company needs for business and your employers. Once proxied, CASBs offer visibility into cloud apps (e.g., audit logs, compliance reports, etc.) and data security (data leakage prevention, encryption, etc.). Since CASBs enable the use of cloud-based services on both managed and unmanaged devices, IT professionals with experience in CASB architecture and deployment are in top demand.

3. Regulatory challenges: who is responsible for security breaches?
The greatest uncertainty in cloud security may be the rapidly expanding gap between usage and regulation. As McAfee points out, phrases like “due diligence” and “reasonable efforts” in cloud privacy and security legislation can be rendered meaningless in the face of rapid technological change. As a result, cloud service providers and cyber insurance providers could be facing years of litigation and complex auditing requirements. These challenges will be greatest for multinational corporations, which may face contradictory regulations depending on country of operation. However, even small and medium-sized businesses could run into problems.

As an Executive Senior Partner for IT talent recruitment, I know first-hand how challenging it can be for companies to hire specialized cybersecurity talent in today’s candidate-driven market. One option for companies that are struggling to find the right talent is to opt for consultants rather than full-time hires. IT consultants with an expertise in cloud security can provide best practice guidance on an as-needed, project basis. Your company can then harden its security by tapping into specialized expertise that would not otherwise be available in the full-time job market.

Questions about cybersecurity threats or sourcing specialized IT consultant? Contact me at to learn more.