Cloud Computing Security Risks Outweigh Benefits: Survey


Despite the hype, nearly half of IT professionals in the U.S. say the risk of cloud computing eclipses the perceived benefits, according to a recent survey from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

The first annual survey revealed that more than 45 percent of respondents feel the risks of cloud computing outweigh the lower total cost of ownership (TCO), high return on investment (ROI), increased efficiency and pay-as-you-go services. Thirty-eight percent of respondents, however, indicated that the risks and benefits of cloud computing are equally balanced, while only 17 percent said the benefits achieved with cloud computing outweigh the risks.

The survey exposes the fear associated with cloud computing even as cloud computing services are expected to experience dramatic growth, hitting $44.2 billion by 2013, outpacing traditional IT spending. Other estimates, including a recent study by Global Industry Analysts, indicate that by 2015 cloud computing services could represent a more than $200 billion market opportunity.

Despite the rapid growth and the benefits, IT professionals are apprehensive about moving data into the cloud, according to the ISACA’s survey of 1,809 U.S. IT professionals, all of which are members of ISACA.

According to the 2010 ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer, only 10 percent of respondents’ organizations plan to use cloud computing for mission critical IT services and 26 percent do not plan to use it at all. Meanwhile, 15 percent said they plan to limit cloud computing to low-risk or non-mission-critical IT services and 18 percent have yet to formalize their cloud computing plans.

“The cloud represents a major change in how computing resources will be utilized, so it’s not surprising that IT professionals have concerns about risk vs. reward trade-offs,” said Robert Stroud, international vice president of ISACA and vice president of IT service management and governance for the service management business unit at CA Inc, in a statement. “But risk and value are two sides of the same coin. If cloud computing is treated as a major governance initiative involving a broad set of stakeholders, it has the potential to yield benefits that can equal or outweigh the risks.”