Consumer Online Storage: Security Threat and MSP Opportunity

Posted by Naomi Price on Oct 28, 2014 8:30:00 AM

In a pre-internet era, a common aphorism was “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” Nowadays, though, after years of ever-more-wonderful technology developments, consumers and business decision makers alike tend to believe in miracles.

Danger Ahead Road SignFaster, better, cheaper is the mantra that has delivered smart phones able to run our lives and put self-driving cars on the horizon.  However, almost all of these breakthroughs have downsides. For example, when it comes to inexpensive or “free” consumer online storage and collaboration sites, IT departments have often been blindsided. In a newly released study, (Worldwide File Synchronization and Sharing 2014–2018 Forecast and 2013 Vendor Shares ) International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that the file synchronization and sharing (FSS) market will grow at a whopping 23.1% five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2018 to $2.3 billion. But that growth also means a lot of sensitive corporate data is slipping from its guarded repositories to someplace else, with potentially serious consequences.  It’s a situation that could give cloud storage a bad name.

Of course, businesses worry that those sites could get hacked. But not much worse is the possibility that key data – maybe even data that is supposed to be guarded under compliance regulations – is out in the wild.  Then there are those troublesome questions like what happens if the file sharing service disappears or goes dark – how do organizations recover their files. For that matter, who hold the keys to the file sharing accounts? You? Your employees? Organizations are slowly but surely recognizing the scope of these challenges and are considering options. 

More and more, cybercriminals are aware of the amount of valuable corporate data shared through consumer-oriented sharing services, so it is very important for IT teams to make sure that employees at the very least take advantage of secure practices -- though getting employees to listen and perhaps even “follow the rules” can be a struggle.

Experts on consumerization – the broader phenomenon by which users get accustomed to easy and free apps and functionality – admit getting people to stick with a more disciplined approach such as a designated corporate FSS provider can be tough. In some cases, the rules need to have teeth to make sure people comply. But first and foremost, any “official” cloud storage system has to be user-friendly and reasonably easy to use.

One of the best options for businesses is to provide a cloud-based storage or collaboration option that you control and that you can regulate, monitor, and manage. And that’s where MSP’s play a role – engineering and delivering storage and collaboration spaces that meet the real needs of customers, without all the security worries.

In a statement, Ajay Gavagal, senior research analyst, ESN and Collaborative Technologies and Content and Digital Media Technologies at IDC, noted “The file synchronization and sharing market is rapidly commoditizing.” And, he noted, the need to enable business users to securely share files and folders with various business constituents “will increase the adoption of business file sync and share service in particular.” That sounds like an MSP opportunity to me.


Topics: Business Development

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