Canadian Underwriter

North American workers exhibit risky cloud behavior, study finds

April 14, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Enterprise cloud adoption has matured in recent years, but employees using cloud apps continue to display “reckless technology habits” that put their employers at risk, according to a study released on Wednesday by a North American IT solutions and managed services provider.

cloud appThe study from Softchoice, titled (Still) Careless Users in the Cloud, found that one in five employees keep passwords in plain sight, such as on Post-It notes and one in three cloud app users have downloaded an app without letting their IT department know. A total of 1,500 full-time employees were interviewed for the survey.

Based on a similar study the company conducted in 2014, (Still) Careless Users in the Cloud found that employees’ bad cloud app habits have gone unchanged over the past two years. “This kind of behavior can be attributed to the lack of cybersecurity training provided to employees on corporate policy and the safe and effective use of cloud applications,” Softchoice suggested in a press release, noting that the study found 58% of full-time employees cite having not been told the right way to download and use cloud apps. As well, 39% were not told the risks of downloading apps without the IT department’s knowledge.

“Most businesses have a stronger understanding of the cloud than they did two years ago, yet, barely anything has improved when it comes to better user behavior,” said David MacDonald, Softchoice’s president and CEO, in the release. “Risky behavior and data vulnerabilities are almost guaranteed to persist if organizations don’t provide training and direction on cybersecurity best practices for the apps, platforms and IT tools employees use on a daily basis.”

The study also found that younger app users are more likely to “go rogue” than their older counterparts: 31% of Millennial employees have downloaded cloud apps without letting IT know, (compared to 22% of Baby Boomers), and 23% of Millennials have downloaded unsanctioned apps even when IT offers an approved version (compared to 13% of Baby Boomers).

“Employees display a wide range of bad habits, from lax password security to rogue IT behavior,” MacDonald said in the release. “If something doesn’t change, organizations will be placed in an extremely vulnerable position. By allocating time and resources for ongoing training and communication about cloud best practices, organizations can make a difference in their employees’ habits.”