Intel: organisations struggling with cloud security
In Autumn 2016, Intel Security surveyed over 2,000 IT professionals across a broad set of industries, countries and organization sizes. The research participants were senior technical decision-makers from a large range of different organizations that were situated across Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE, the UK and the USA.
Nearly 40 percent of cloud services are commissioned without the involvement of IT. This is leading to more and more security risks for companies.
Intel Security announced today its second annual cloud security report entitled: “Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky”. The report is outlining the current state of cloud adoption, the main concerns with private and public cloud services, security implications, and the evolving impact of Shadow IT of the more than 2,000 IT professionals that were surveyed.
Raj Samani (EMEA Chief Technology Officer at Intel Security) commented: “The ‘Cloud First’ strategy is now well and truly ensconced into the architecture of many organizations across the world. The desire to move quickly toward cloud computing appears to be on the agenda for most organizations. This year, the average time before respondents thought their IT budgets would be 80 percent cloud-based was 15 months, indicating that Cloud First for many companies is progressing and remains the objective.”
Trust in the Cloud on the Rise
The trust and perception of public cloud services remains to improve year over year. Most organizations view cloud services as more secure than private clouds, and more likely to deliver lower costs of ownership and overall data visibility. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust public clouds by more than 2-to-1. Improved trust and perception (as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management) is encouraging more organizations to store sensitive data in the public cloud. Personal customer information is the most likely type of data to be stored in public clouds, kept there by 62 percent of those surveyed.
Risks also rise: shadow IT and the cybersecurity skill shortage
The continuing shortage of security skills is continuing to affect cloud deployments. Almost half of the organizations that were surveyed reported on the lack of cybersecurity skills and how these skills have slowed adoption or usage of cloud services. This could possibly be contributing to the increase in Shadow IT activities. Another 36 percent of those surveyed reported that they are experiencing a scarcity but are continuing with their cloud activities regardless. Only 15 percent of those surveyed state they do not have a skills shortage.
Due to the ease of procurement, almost 40 percent of cloud services are now commissioned without the involvement of IT. Unfortunately, visibility of these Shadow IT services has dropped from about 50 percent last year to just under 47 percent this year. As a result, 65 percent of IT professionals think that this phenomenon is interfering with the ability to keep the cloud safe and secure. This is not surprising given the amount of sensitive data that is now being stored in the public cloud and more than half of respondents reported that they have definitively tracked malware from a cloud SaaS application.
Data center progression
The number of organizations using private cloud only has dropped from 51 percent to 24 percent over the past year, while hybrid cloud use has increased from 19 to 57 percent. This move to a hybrid private/public cloud architecture requires the data center to evolve to a highly virtualized, cloud-based infrastructure. On average, 52 percent of an organization’s data center servers are virtualized, 80 percent are using containers and most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data center completed within two years.
- Attackers will look for the easiest targets, regardless of whether they are public, private or hybrid. Integrated or unified security solutions that provide visibility across all of the organization’s services could be the best defence.
- User credentials (especially for administrators) will be the most likely form of attack. Organizations need to ensure they are using authentication best practices, such as distinct passwords, multi-factor authentication and even biometrics where available.
- Security technologies (such as data loss prevention, encryption and cloud access security brokers) remain underutilized. Integrating these tools with an existing security system increases visibility, enables discovery of shadow services, and provides options for automatic protection of sensitive data at rest and in motion throughout any type of environment.
- Organizations need to move towards a risk management and mitigation approach to information security. They should consider adopting a Cloud First strategy to encourage adoption of cloud services to reduce costs and increase flexibility, and put security operations in a proactive position instead of a reactive one.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”