Cloud, Mobile Create Big Security Challenges

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A CompTIA study indicates organizations adopting cloud and mobile technologies for productivity and convenience are facing mounting security issues.These days, organizations are demanding a higher level of expertise, clearing a path for partners to hone expertise and beef up skills by investing in related certifications and specializations.

It’s a given that cloud computing, mobility and social networking tools have revolutionized the IT paradigm by accelerating productivity, efficiency and communication. The flip side of that coin, however, is that these same technologies pose a slew of security challenges for organizations attempting to lock down sensitive information and impose control on networks, according to research by CompTIA.

For the past nine years,  CompTIA’s 10th Annual Information Security Trends study revealed that human error accounts for a significant number of security breaches. The biggest difference now is that the human element is not just relegated to age-old threats such as malware and phishing attacks, but ones that expose information on new platforms, like cloud and social networking sites.

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For that reason, four out of five companies expect security will remain a high priority over the next two years -- a sentiment more acute in the enterprise than the SMB and other lower markets.

It’s a concern shared broadly. According to a Transparency Market Research report, the cloud security market is expected to grow exponentially to more than $6 billion by 2016. And of the overall cloud security market, one third of global cloud security revenues will be funneled into mobile cloud security solutions at the same time.

To deal with rapidly evolving technologies, 41 percent of organizations contend they need to help IT staff fill in moderate to significant gaps in expertise. And perhaps not surprisingly, those gaps are a lot bigger in emerging areas of security, such as cloud and mobile, as well as growing markets such as data-loss prevention.

"As users gain more responsibility for their own technology, the human element becomes more and more important," said Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA. "But many organizations are not sure what to do about it. The way they've thought about security in the past is to purchase a firewall or antivirus software or other product. But there's not a product that can help with end-user awareness. It really requires a commitment to training and education."

That’s where the channel has historically stepped in and will continue to do so. Partners will undoubtedly be called on to fill these ever-widening security gaps by leveraging niche security expertise in burgeoning technology fields such as mobile or cloud security. That expertise could help partners expand their consulting portfolios with security assessments while also creating security policy and appropriate strategies that take these new platforms into account.

To alleviate some of the biggest security issues, 49 percent of companies say they plan to hire security specialists, including those to train staff. And despite what likely elicits added expense, executives say they prefer security professionals with industry certifications. To that end, 84 percent of respondents say they experienced a positive ROI by investing in certifications. Certified staff was viewed as more valuable because of their expertise and ability to maintain a higher lever of performance at their job than non-certified staff.

This research clears a wide path for channel partners to deepen consulting practices and take on relatively novel and unfamiliar security challenges created with the rapid adoption of cloud, mobile and other disruptive platforms.

It’s no secret that organizations’ IT environments are increasingly complex and difficult to manage. Demand for security experts to dig in the weeds and resolve complicated security challenges will probably remain high for a while. Partners will be required to refine expertise and beef up skill sets with certifications if they want to stay a few lengths ahead in increasingly competitive cloud and mobile markets.

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