Security, Mobility and Social Enterprise: A Look Ahead to the Cloud in 2012

The calendar’s switched over, which means it’s that time of year again: full work weeks and prediction pieces for where cloud computing’s headed in the coming year. A few predictions caught our eye:

Picking up on the security threats to businesses, IT Business Edge’s Mike Vizard, citing security firm Blue Coat Systems, offers four security trends that IT should follow in the coming year.

(We’ve kept a running timeline of 2011’s major security breaches.) Mobility and social apps are catching on with employees — and with hackers:

  • Easier to predict and isolate attacks –- It’s becoming easier to identify where security threats originate — more than two-thirds come from malware — which means it’s now easier to predict and isolate specific threats, instead of using a broad “perimeter” defense. Those perimeters are becoming more difficult to define as employees increasingly access cloud applications.
  • Vulnerability of search engines – Increasingly, search engines will serve as a backdoor into the enterprise for hackers. Writes Vizard: “Distributors of malware inject code in both legitimate and fake websites to get people to inadvertently download a piece of malware. This approach has proven so successful, despite the rise of reputation filters, in part because cyber criminals can move Web servers quickly from country to country.”
  • Social Media, too – As social media becomes more prevalent in business — not just personal networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but also enterprise social apps such as’s Chatter — more and more attackers will compromise social media networks to gain access.
  • Mobile devices vulnerable – Employees are working on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices more than ever, making it more enticing for attackers to try to hack them. Look for major security breaches to originate from compromised mobile devices during 2012.

There’s huge potential for security breaches, but IT departments shouldn’t despair. By managing their organization’s cloud apps with single sign-on and multifactor authentication, IT can greatly reduce the threat.

ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright, meanwhile, looks back on his 2011 predictions that mobile and the cloud would be among the year’s biggest storylines. He was right, of course. 2011 saw many high-profile, high-dollar acquisitions of cloud companies by traditional on-premise companies. SAP picked up Successfactors for $3.4 billion, proving just how important the cloud has become. Wainewright discusses how the explosion of cloud apps has transformed enterprise software:

As we move forward into 2012, that recognition of the pervasive nature of cloud technologies will engender a more mature attitude to cloud in the enterprise, one that aims to harness and manage both private and public cloud resources within a hybrid environment that leverages the best strengths of both. Cloud is no longer something ethereal and remote, but instead it touches and envelops every existing IT asset. Cloud has landed and must interact effectively with what’s on the ground — and vice-versa.

The cloud’s here, and IT must securely manage employees’ access to the cloud apps they need and want, without standing in the way.

Stay tuned tomorrow for our CEO Todd McKinnon’s review of his '11 predictions and his take on where the cloud’s headed in ’12.