Obvious Passwords and Not-so-Obvious Startup Businesses

No turkey related cloud news last week (though we did spend some time during the holiday turning the Google turkey into a pirate), so we turn to two other interesting stories: cloud SaaS momentum and a roundup of the weakest online passwords -- and how password fatigue exposes businesses to security breaches.

Starting a Cloud Business? Forget Consumers, Think B2B

Groupon’s IPO, however coincidentally, seems to have signaled a shift in focus among technology startups. Third quarter 2011 showed an emphasis on funding business-to-business cloud SaaS companies. By moving away from consumer-facing Internet companies (social sites, deals and mobile apps), venture capitalists have invested heavily in the enterprise cloud during Q3.

Business cloud startups received $1.2 billion in funding, a 50 percent growth, equaling 14 percent of total overall funding.

In a thorough trend piece, Ben Worthen of The Wall Street Journal argues that technology startups that provide online services for businesses are now rapidly gaining momentum. As enterprise customers grow more familiar with cloud service offerings and move beyond the initial appeal of cost savings, the cloud’s benefits become increasingly apparent. With more entrepreneurs and companies continuing to scale cloud SaaS to enterprise needs, we expect increased cloud adoption and implementation through 2012 – and an increased need for IT to use a management layer to maintain the ever-increasing number of cloud apps in the business.

12345 and 24 Other Obvious – and Overused – Passwords

Last week, SplashData released a report on the top 25 most used passwords of 2011. Common passwords include “passw0rd,” “abc123,” and “qwerty.” Look familiar? The passwords shared by SplashData are frequently used -- and worse for enterprise IT departments, employees often use these common passwords to access personal and business apps. Chances are, if your organization uses online services, some employees will be carrying these popular passwords to their business logins. Weak employee passwords could make sensitive business information vulnerable to hackers. Companies like RIM, Sony and Electronic Arts all had databases hacked into this year (check out a full timeline here), revealing holes in their cloud security systems.

In light of the report, eWEEK’s Fahmida Rashid investigated solutions to the “password problem.” One option: Eliminate passwords by using a third-party authentication service. IT departments can use such a service to cover multiple sites and apps and introduce strong security measures where login is required. In her article, Rashid cites Okta as one such service that offers single-sign on to cloud applications such as Salesforce.com and Google Docs (not to mention the 1,200+ applications in the Okta Application Network).