Recent research indicates cloud computing can help businesses and many organizations recover from the economic downtown, but concerns over security may still prevent some businesses and government organizations from fully embracing its benefits.

A recent study by research firm Vanson Bourne found that 68 percent of the 600 IT and business decision-makers polled said the flexibility of cloud computing could help organizations recover from the current global economic downturn.

The study, commissioned by Savvis Inc., a St. Louis-based cloud technology provider, surveyed more than 600 IT and business decision-makers across the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore. The study revealed an underlying pressure to do more with less money and demand for lower-cost, more flexible IT provisioning.

Confidence in cloud computing continues to grow as the study found that 96 percent of IT decision-makers are as confident or more confident in cloud computing being enterprise-ready now than they were in 2009.

At the same time, the study indicated security concerns remain a key barrier to cloud adoption, with 52 percent of respondents who do not use the cloud citing the security of sensitive data as a concern. In addition, 73 percent of all respondents wanted cloud providers to fully manage security while allowing configuration change requests from the client.

When it comes to government agencies, research from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the government’s increasing use of cloud computing services could lead to new data security risks, with agencies compelled to put their trust in vendors’ security efforts.

Cloud computing will likely give the U.S. government several benefits, including significantly lower IT costs, but agencies are moving their data to the cloud before the White House Office of Management and Budget and supporting agencies have developed a government-wide security strategy, said Gregory Wilshusen, director of information security issues at the GAO.

“The use of cloud computing can also create numerous information security risks,” said Wilshusen. “These risks generally relate to dependence on the security assurances and practices of a service provider and the sharing of computing resources.”

Further GAO research indicated that IT executives at 22 of 24 major U.S. agencies surveyed raised concerns about cloud computing security, even as officials in President Obama’s administration support cloud computing.

A GAO report released last Thursday listed several security concerns, including vendors using ineffective security practices; agencies not able to examine the security controls of vendors; cybercriminals targeting data-rich clouds; and agencies losing access to their data if the relationship with a vendor ends.

This article first appeared on the WebCPA web site.


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