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Survey of IT Pros Highlights Lack of Understanding of SaaS Data Loss Risks

Survey of IT Pros Highlights Lack of Understanding of SaaS Data Loss Risks

Blog Article Published: 04/26/2016

By Melanie Sommer, Director of Marketing, Spanning by EMC

Recently, Spanning – an EMC company and provider of backup and recovery for SaaS applications – announced the results of a survey* of over 1,000 IT professionals across the U.S. and the U.K. about trends in SaaS data protection. It turns out that IT pros across the pond have the same concerns as here in the U.S., as the survey found that security is the top concern when moving critical applications to cloud. Specifically, 44 percent of U.S. and U.K. IT pros cited external hacking/data breaches as their top concerns, ahead of insider attacks and user error.

But that’s not the most interesting finding, as the survey found that perceived concerns differ from reality when it comes to actual data loss. In total, nearly 80 percent of respondents have experienced data loss in their organizations’ SaaS deployments. Accidental deletion of information was the leading cause of data loss from SaaS applications (43 percent in U.S., 41 percent in U.K.), ahead of data loss caused by malicious insiders and hackers.

While organizations in both the U.S. and U.K. have experienced data loss due to accidental deletions, migration errors (33 percent in U.S., 31 percent in U.K.), and accidental overwrites (27 percent in U.S., 26 percent in U.K.) also led external and insider attacks as top causes of data loss.

How SaaS Backup and Recovery Helps

As a case in point, consider one serious user error – clicking a malicious link or file and triggering a ransomware attack. If an organization uses cloud-based collaboration tools like Office 365 One Drive for Business or Google Drive, the impact from a ransomware attack is multiplied at compute speed. How? An infected laptop contains files that automatically sync to the cloud (via Google Drive, or OneDrive for Business). Those newly-infected files sync, then infect and encrypt other files in every connected system – including those of business partners or customers, whose files and collaboration tools will be similarly compromised.

This is where backup and recovery enters the picture. Nearly half of respondents in the U.S. not already using a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solution said that they trust their SaaS providers with managing backup, while the other half rely on manual solutions. In most cases, SaaS providers are not in a position to recover lost or deleted data due to user error, and cannot blunt the impact of a ransomware attack on their customers. Further, with many organizations relying both on manual backups and an assumption that none of the admins in charge are malicious, the opportunity for accidental neglect or oversight is too big to ignore. The industry would seem to agree. Roughly a third of organizations in the U.S. (37 percent) are already using or plan to use a cloud-to-cloud backup provider for backup and recovery of their SaaS applications within the next 12 months.

Since the survey included U.K. respondents, it also gauged sentiment around the rapidly changing data privacy regulations in the EU, specifically in regards to the “E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield.” The vast majority of IT professionals surveyed agree (66 percent in the U.K., 72 percent in the U.S.) that storing data in a primary cloud provider’s EU data center will ensure 100 percent compliance with data and privacy regulations.

These results paint a picture of an industry that is as unsure as they are underprepared; while security is a top concern when moving critical applications to the cloud, most organizations trust the inherent protection of their SaaS applications to keep their data safe, even though the leading cause of data loss is user error, which is not normally covered under native SaaS application backup. The results also show that the concerns influencing cloud adoption have little to do with the real cause of everyday data loss and more with a fear of data breaches or hackers.

The takeaway from these survey results: more IT pros need an increased awareness and understanding about where, when, and how critical data can be lost to reduce their cloud adoption concerns; and, more IT pros need to learn how to minimize the true sources of SaaS data loss risk. To learn more, download the full survey report, or view an infographic outlining the major findings of the survey.

*Survey Methodology Spanning by EMC commissioned the online survey, which was completed by 1,037 respondents in December 2015. Of the respondents, 537 (52 percent) were based in the United Kingdom, and 500 in the United States (48 percent). A full 100 percent of the respondents “have influence or decision making authority on spending in the IT department” of their organization.
Respondents were asked to select between two specific roles: “IT Function with Oversight for SaaS Applications” (75 percent U.S., 78 percent U.K., 77 percent overall); “Line of Business/SaaS application owner” (39 percent U.S., 43 percent U.K., 41 percent overall); the remaining identified as “other.”

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