July 19, 2012
Countries where a desktop computer was a novel idea even a few years ago are now likely to skip intermediary steps and move right into the world of cloud computing, according to a study from the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Even so, the sharing of login credentials in many of those countries shows a lackadaisical attitude toward cloud security.
Regardless of awareness to the fact that the services they use are indeed under the cloud computing umbrella, 45 percent of computer users throughout the world use online services to "create, manage and store documents" that can be accessed from any computer. That number spikes slightly to 50 percent in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Argentina, while more traditional, mature economies use the technology just 33 percent of the time.
"We're seeing a leapfrog effect," BSA CEO Robert Holleyman said. "A lot of recent adopters of computers and information technology are jumping straight to the cloud."
Among those that self-identify their technology choices with the cloud, 88 percent of those around the world use it for personal use. Thirty-three percent do so for business, with some obvious overlap. Both of those numbers were higher in the emergent countries than the mature ones.
While most of the revelations about the use of cloud technology in the emerging world are encouraging for the global market, more unsavory practices also prevail. According to the study, 42 percent of cloud users worldwide who utilize paid services in a business capacity - regardless of their countries' economies - share credentials for login inside of their organization.
In mature economies, that number was lower, with just 30 percent of respondents doing so. However, in the less-developed countries, the number jumped up to 45 percent. Despite the fact that emerging countries were just as likely to use pay services, the potential for piracy makes shared credentials a disturbing trend.
Data at risk
Beyond just the threat to service providers from piracy, the potential confusion surrounding cloud identity puts company and personal data at risk. As much as data protection can and cloud authentication can do to keep hackers and other insidious individuals away from sensitive information, widespread availability of login credentials reduces many of those protections to nothing.
According to the 2012 Data Breach Report from Verizon, stolen login credentials accounted for more breaches than any other security lapse, being responsible 30 percent of the time. Those breaches accounted for 84 percent of stolen records. By giving the same login credentials to multiple people, the data protection is spread thinner, giving a criminal a wider area to attack.
-McAfee Cloud Security