Hybrid environments driving positive business impact amid pandemic

Nutanix announced the findings of its survey and research report, which measures enterprise progress with adopting private, hybrid and public clouds. This year, survey respondents were also asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on current and future IT decisions and strategy.

hybrid environments

Hybrid cloud is still the frontrunner as the ideal IT infrastructure model (86% of respondents think so), and respondents running hybrid environments are more likely to plan to focus on strategic efforts and driving positive business impact.

Shifting IT’s focus toward remote worker support

The pandemic has shifted IT’s focus toward remote worker support and enabling near-instant infrastructure deployments that reach geographically distributed workforces, spurring increased enterprise progress with cloud expansion.

Additionally, a greater number of respondents running hybrid environments said they were likely to offer more flexible work setups, strengthen their business continuity plans, simplify operations, and increase digital conferencing usage because of the pandemic.

76% of respondents reported the pandemic made them think more strategically about IT, and 46% said their investments in hybrid cloud have increased as a direct result of the pandemic, including public and private clouds.

Additionally, businesses also increasingly rely on multiple public clouds to meet their needs compared to previous years. The report showed that, among those who use public clouds, 63% of respondents use two or more public clouds, or multicloud, respondents are also expecting this number to jump to 71% in the next 12 months.

Enterprises taking key steps toward reaching their IT operating model of choice

Global respondents report taking the initial key steps to successfully run a hybrid environment, including adopting hyperconverged infrastructure in their datacenters and decommissioning non-cloud-enabled datacenters in favor of private and public cloud usage.

Global IT teams are also planning for substantial infrastructure changes; they foresee, on average, hybrid cloud deployments increasing by more than 37 percentage points over the next five years, with a corresponding 15-point drop in non-cloud-enabled datacenters.

Most notably of the many infrastructure categories, respondents reported running a mixed model of private cloud, public cloud, and traditional datacenter more often than any other (nearly 26%) which is likely a precursor to a hybrid cloud deployment.

Remote work is here to stay — and companies are planning for it

In last year’s survey, about 27% of respondent companies had no full-time at-home workers. That number fell 20 percentage points this year to only 7%, as a result of to COVID-19.

By 2022, respondents predict that an average of 13% of companies will have no full-time remote employees at that time, less than half as many as a year ago in 2019, before COVID struck. Improving IT infrastructure (50%) and work-from-home capabilities (47%) have therefore become priorities for the next 12 to 18 months.

Strategic business outcomes, not economics, drive change today

Respondents said their primary motives for modifying their IT infrastructures are to get greater control of their IT resources (58%), gain the flexibility to meet dynamic business requirements (55%), and improve support for customers and remote workers (46%). By contrast, just 27% mentioned cutting costs as a driver.

Educators face unique COVID-19-related challenges and needs

More education-industry respondents cited “ensuring that remote workers have adequate hardware” as a primary challenge than any other issue. 47% also cited providing “adequate communications channels among employees, customers, and clients” as a top challenge.

The education sector is taking the right steps toward transformation, ranking high in private cloud deployments, with 29% of respondents saying they were running private clouds only (substantially more than the 22% global average).

“In January, for many companies technology was considered a basic function of a business, enabling core organizational processes,” said Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO of Nutanix.

“Today, technology has taken on an entirely new meaning. It is a complex strategy and it makes or breaks a company’s long-term viability. COVID-19 has accelerated us into a new era of strategic IT and raised its profile considerably, and the findings from this year’s Enterprise Cloud Index reflect this new reality.

“Hybrid cloud is the frontrunner, and it will continue to be as we navigate our mixing of physical and virtual environments and move away from doing business in a single mode.”

Multi-cloud environments leaving businesses at risk

Businesses around the globe are facing challenges as they try to protect data stored in complex hybrid multi-cloud environments, from the growing threat of ransomware, according to a Veritas Technologies survey.

multi-cloud environments risk

Only 36% of respondents said their security has kept pace with their IT complexity, underscoring the need for greater use of data protection solutions that can protect against ransomware across the entirety of increasingly heterogenous environments.

Need to pay ransoms

Typically, if businesses fall foul to ransomware and are not able to restore their data from a backup copy of their files, they may look to pay the hackers responsible for the attack to return their information.

The research showed companies with greater complexity in their multi-cloud infrastructure were more likely to make these payments. The mean number of clouds deployed by those organizations who paid a ransom in full was 14.06. This dropped to 12.61 for those who paid only part of the ransom and went as low as 7.22 for businesses who didn’t pay at all.

In fact, only 20% of businesses with fewer than five clouds paid a ransom in full, 44% for those with more than 20. This compares with 57% of the under-fives paying nothing to their hackers and just 17% of the over-20s.

Slow recovery times

Complexity in cloud architectures was also shown to have a significant impact on a business’s ability to recover following a ransomware attack. While 43% of those businesses with fewer than five cloud providers in their infrastructure saw their business operations disrupted by less than one day, only 18% of those with more than 20 were as fast to return to normal.

Moreover, 39% of the over-20s took 5-10 days to get back on track, with just 16% of the under-fives having to wait so long.

Inability to restore data

Furthermore, according to the findings of the research, greater complexity in an organization’s cloud infrastructure, also made it slightly less likely that they would ever be able to restore their data in the event of a ransomware attack.

While 44% of businesses with fewer than five cloud providers were able to restore 90% or more of their data, just 40% of enterprises building their infrastructure on more than 20 cloud services were able to say the same.

John Abel, SVP and CIO at Veritas said: “The benefits of hybrid multi-cloud are increasingly being recognised in businesses around the world. In order to drive the best experience, at the best price, organizations are choosing best-of-breed cloud solutions in their production environments, and the average company today is now using nearly 12 different cloud providers to drive their digital transformation.

“However, our research shows many businesses’ data protection strategies aren’t keeping pace with the levels of complexity they’re introducing and, as a result, they’re feeling the impact of ransomware more acutely.

“In order to insulate themselves from the financial and reputational damage of ransomware, organizations need to look to data protection solutions that can span their increasingly heterogenous infrastructures, no matter how complex they may be.”

Businesses recognize the challenge

The research revealed that many businesses are aware of the challenge they face, with just 36% of respondents believing their security had kept pace with the complexity in their infrastructure.

The top concern as a result of this complexity, as stated by businesses, was the increased risk of external attack, cited by 37% of all participants in the research.

Abel continued: “We’ve heard from our customers that, as part of their response to COVID, they rapidly accelerated their journey to the cloud. Many organizations needed to empower homeworking across a wider portfolio of applications than ever before and, with limited access to their on-premise IT infrastructure, turned to cloud deployments to meet their needs.

“We’re seeing a lag between the high-velocity expansion of the threat surface that comes with increased multi-cloud adoption, and the deployment of data protection solutions needed to secure them. Our research shows some businesses are investing to close that resiliency gap – but unless this is done at greater speed, companies will remain vulnerable.”

Need for investment

46% of businesses shared they had increased their budgets for security since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a correlation between this elevated level of investment and the ability to restore data in the wake of an attack: 47% of those spending more since the Coronavirus outbreak were able to restore 90% or more of their data, compared with just 36% of those spending less.

The results suggest there is more to be done though, with the average business being able to restore only 80% of its data.

Back to basics

While the research indicates organizations need to more comprehensively protect data in their complex cloud infrastructures, the survey also highlighted the need to get the basics of data protection right too.

Only 55% of respondents could claim they have offline backups in place, even though those who do are more likely to be able to restore more than 90% of their data. Those with multiple copies of data were also better able to restore the lion’s share of their data.

Forty-nine percent of those with three or more copies of their files were able to restore 90% or more of their information, compared with just 37% of those with only two.

The three most common data protection tools to have been deployed amongst respondents who had avoided paying ransoms were: anti-virus, backup and security monitoring, in that order.

Global trends

The safest countries to be in to avoid ransomware attacks, the research revealed, were Poland and Hungary. Just 24% of businesses in Poland had been on the receiving end of a ransomware attack, and the average company in Hungary had only experienced 0.52 attacks ever.

The highest incident of attack was in India, where 77% of businesses had succumbed to ransomware, and the average organization had been hit by 5.27 attacks.

Network visibility critical in increasingly complex environments

Federal IT leaders across the country voiced the importance of network visibility in managing and securing their agencies’ increasingly complex and hybrid networks, according to Riverbed.

network visibility

Of 200 participating federal government IT decision makers and influencers, 90 percent consider their networks to be moderately-to-highly complex, and 32 percent say that increasing network complexity is the greatest challenge an IT professional without visibility faces in their agency when managing the network.

Driving this network complexity are Cloud First and Cloud Smart initiatives that make it an imperative for federal IT to modernize its infrastructure with cloud transformation and “as-a-service” adoption.

More than 25 percent of respondents are still in the planning stages of their priority modernization projects, though 87 percent of survey respondents recognize that network visibility is a strong or moderate enabler of cloud infrastructure.

Network visibility can help expedite the evaluation process to determine what goes onto an agency’s cloud and what data and apps stay on-prem; it also allows clearer, ongoing management across the networks to enable smooth transitions to cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures.

Accelerated move to cloud

The COVID-19 has further accelerated modernization and cloud adoption to support the massive shift of the federal workforce to telework – a recent Market Connections study indicates that 90 percent of federal employees are currently teleworking and that 86 percent expect to continue to do so at least part-time after the pandemic ends.

The rapid adoption of cloud-based services and solutions and an explosion of new endpoints accessing agency networks during the pandemic generated an even greater need for visibility into the who, what, when and where of traffic. In fact, 81 percent of survey respondents noted that the increasing use of telework accelerated their agency’s use and deployment of network visibility solutions, with 25 percent responding “greatly.”

“The accelerated move to cloud was necessary because the majority of federal staff were no longer on-prem, creating significant potential for disruption to citizen services and mission delivery,” said Marlin McFate, public sector CTO at Riverbed.

“This basically took IT teams from being able to see, to being blind. All of their users were now outside of their protected environments, and they no longer had control over the internet connections, the networks employees were logging on from or who or what else had access to those networks. To be able to securely maintain networks and manage end-user experience, you have to have greater visibility.”

Visibility drives security

Lack of visibility into agency networks and the proliferation of apps and endpoints designed to improve productivity and collaboration expands the potential attack surface for cyberthreats.

Ninety-three percent of respondents believe that greater network visibility facilitates greater network security and 96 percent believe network visibility is moderately or highly valuable in assuring secure infrastructure.

Further, respondents ranked cybersecurity as their agency’s number one priority that can be improved through better network visibility, and automated threat detection was identified as the most important feature of a network visibility solution (24 percent), followed by advanced reporting features (14 percent), and automated alerting (13 percent).

“Network visibility is the foundation of cybersecurity and federal agencies have to know what’s on their network so they can rapidly detect and remediate malicious actors. And while automation enablement calls for an upfront time investment, it can significantly improve response time not only for cyber threat detection but also network issues that can hit employee productivity,” concluded McFate.

Machine identity related cyberattacks grew by 433% between 2018 and 2019

The machine identity attack surface is exploding, with a rapid increase in all types of machine identity-related security events in 2018 and 2019, according to Venafi. For example, the number of reported machine identity-related cyberattacks grew by over 400% during this two-year period.

machine identity related cyberattacks

“We have seen machine use skyrocket in organizations over the last five years, but many businesses still focus their security controls primarily on human identity management,” said Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.

Digital transformation initiatives are in jeopardy because attackers are able to exploit wide gaps in machine identity management strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic is driving faster adoption of cloud, hybrid and microservices architectures, but protecting machine identities for these projects are often an afterthought.

“The only way to mitigate these risks is to build comprehensive machine identity management programs that are as comprehensive as customer, partner and employee identity and access management strategies.”

Key findings

  • Between 2015 and 2019, the number of reported cyberattacks that used machine identities grew by more than 700%, with this amount increasing by 433% between the years 2018 and 2019 alone.
  • From 2015 to 2019, the number of vulnerabilities involving machine identities grew by 260%, increasing by 125% between 2018 and 2019.
  • The use of commodity malware that abuses machine identities doubled between the years 2018 and 2019 and grew 300% over the five years leading up to 2019.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, the number of reported advanced persistent threats (APTs) that used machine identities grew by 400%. Reports of these attacks increased by 150% between 2018 and 2019.

“As our use of cloud, hybrid, open source and microservices use increases, there are many more machine identities on enterprise networks—and this rising number correlates with the accelerated number of threats,” said Yana Blachman, threat intelligence researcher at Venafi.

“As a result, every organization’s machine identity attack surface is getting much bigger. Although many threats or security incidents frequently involve a machine identity component, too often these details do not receive enough attention and aren’t highlighted in public reports.

“This lack of focus on machine identities in cyber security reporting has led to a lack of data and focus on this crucial area of security. As a result, the trends we are seeing in this report are likely just the tip of the iceberg.”

Bad habits and risky behaviors put corporate data at risk

IT and application development professionals tend to exhibit risky behaviors when organizations impose strict IT policies, according to SSH.

risky behaviors

Polling 625 IT and application development professionals across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, the survey verified that hybrid IT is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down.

Fifty-six percent of respondents described their IT environment as hybrid cloud, an increase from 41 percent a year ago. On average, companies are actively using two cloud service vendors at a time.

While hybrid cloud offers a range of strategic benefits related to cost, performance, security, and productivity, it also introduces the challenge of managing more cloud access.

Cloud access solutions slowing down work

The survey found that cloud access solutions, including privileged access management software, slow down daily work for 71 percent of respondents. The biggest speed bumps were cited as configuring access (34 percent), repeatedly logging in and out (30 percent), and granting access to other users (29 percent).

These hurdles often drive users to seek risky workarounds, with 52 percent of respondents claiming they would “definitely” or at least “consider” bypassing secure access controls if they were under pressure to meet a deadline.

85 percent of respondents also share account credentials with others out of convenience, even though 70 percent understand the risks of doing so. These risks are further exacerbated when considering that 60 percent of respondents use unsecure methods to store their credentials and passwords, including in email, in non-encrypted files or folders, and on paper.

“As businesses grow their cloud environments, secure access to the cloud will continue be paramount. But when access controls lead to a productivity trade-off, as this research has shown, IT admins and developers are likely to bypass security entirely, opening the organization up to even greater cyber risk,” said Jussi Mononen, chief commercial officer at SSH.

“For privileged access management to be effective, it needs to be fast and convenient, without adding operational obstacles. It needs to be effortless.”

Orgs using public internet networks

In addition to exposing the risky behaviors of many IT and application development professionals when accessing the cloud, the survey also revealed some unwitting security gaps in organizations’ access management policies. For example, more than 40 percent of respondents use public internet networks – inherently less secure than private networks – to access internal IT resources.

Third-party access was also found to be a risk point, with 29 percent of respondents stating that outside contractors are given permanent access credentials to the business’ IT environment.

risky behaviors

Permanent credentials are fundamentally risky as they provide widespread access beyond the task at hand, and can be forgotten, stolen, mismanaged, misconfigured, or lost.

Mononen continued, “When it comes to access management, simpler is safer. Methods like single sign-on can streamline the user experience significantly, by creating fewer logins and fewer entry points that reduce the forming of bad IT habits.

“There is also power in eliminating permanent access credentials entirely, using ephemeral certificates that unlock temporary ‘just-in-time’ access to IT resources, only for time needed before access automatically expires. Ultimately, reducing the capacity for human error comes down to designing security solutions that put the user first and cut out unnecessary complexity.”

Not all IT budgets are being cut, some are increasing

At a high level—and contrary to conventional wisdom – not all IT budgets are being cut. Even with the economic challenges that COVID-19 has posed for businesses, almost 38 percent of enterprises are keeping their IT budgets unchanged (flat) or actually increasing them.

IT budgets unchanged

Yellowbrick Data received responses from more than 1,000 enterprise IT managers and executives, uncovering their infrastructure priorities during this era of economic uncertainty and disruption.

“The survey brought to light some trends that we have been noticing recently related to the speed at which companies are moving to the cloud and investing in analytics. In fact, more than half of enterprises are accelerating their move to the cloud in light of COVID-19 challenges to their businesses,” said Jeff Spicer, CMO for Yellowbrick Data.

“But what really stands out is that nearly 55 percent of enterprises are looking at a hybrid cloud strategy with a combination of cloud and on-premises solutions. That clearly shows that a cloud-alone strategy is not what most enterprises are looking for—and validates what our customers are telling us about their own best practices combining cloud and on-prem approaches to their biggest data infrastructure challenges.”

For huge margins of enterprise IT leaders, investments in data infrastructure and analytics are a top priority:

  • Data warehouse modernization is important for almost 90 percent of enterprises this year. For 55 percent it is very important, and for an additional 35 percent it is somewhat important.
  • Getting more business value from their data lake is important for more than 95 percent of enterprises, with 61 percent saying it is very important and an additional 35 percent saying it is somewhat important.
  • For almost two-thirds of respondents, investments in analytical infrastructure are important, with 27 percent investing a lot more and an additional 37 percent investing somewhat more.

Answering the “why” behind IT investments

These are the top four reasons IT decision-makers cite for investing in a new data warehouse or data analytics tool:

  • 73 percent of respondents want better performance
  • 54 percent want a solution that is easier to use
  • 52 percent want a solution that is less expensive
  • 48 percent say new enterprise applications require new solutions

Many firms are modernizing by adding cloud services, with 55 percent of enterprises looking at a hybrid cloud strategy as their best approach.

Enterprises see a variety of benefits with hybrid cloud. Answers that gained a more than 50 percent response included:

  • 56 percent want more control over what is where—for example, the ability to customize the private end of their hybrid cloud model to their specific needs and adjust them accordingly as they see fit
  • 54 percent say their IT staff can better optimize the network
  • 52 percent say their companies can get the security of a private cloud with the power and services of the public cloud
  • 51 percent say they can scale faster without compromising sensitive data

IT budgets unchanged

Top IT spending priorities diverse among businesses

When asked to identify their #1 business priority (single choice only) from their cloud investment, decision-makers gave numerous responses, with two consensus points emerging:

  • Cost savings took up two of the top three spots and accounted for 39 percent of the total: 23 percent cited cost savings in infrastructure (hardware or software) and 16 percent cited cost saving to IT staff
  • Business flexibility was the second biggest priority overall, coming in at 18 percent
  • With the exception of “greater compute speed” (10 percent), no other choice received higher than a single-digit percentage

Public clouds: Mostly trusted, definitely diversify

Despite enterprises embracing the cloud, some skepticism remains. 27 percent of enterprise leaders say they do not trust public cloud providers to prioritize their business needs.

With the above statistic in mind, it is not surprising that risk mitigation remains a critical consideration, with 82 percent of respondents saying they want hybrid or multi-cloud options to spread any risk from their cloud investments, along with an additional 67 percent saying there are some parts of their business they will not trust to any single cloud vendor.

SaltStack Salt vulnerabilities actively exploited by attackers, patch ASAP!

Two vulnerabilities in SaltStack Salt, an open-source remote task and configuration management framework, are being actively exploited by attackers, CISA warns.

About SaltStack Salt

Salt is used for configuring, managing and monitoring servers in datacenters and cloud environments.

The Salt installation is the “master” and each server it monitors runs an API agent called a “minion”. The minions send state reports to the master and the master publishes update messages containing instructions/commands to the minions. The communication between the master and its minions is secured (encrypted).

SaltStack Salt vulnerabilities

About the vulnerabilities

Discovered by F-Secure researchers, CVE-2020-11651 (an authentication bypass flaw) and CVE-2020-11652 (a directory traversal flaw) can be exploited by remote, unauthenticated attackers.

According to the researchers, the vulnerabilities allow attackers to “connect to the ‘request server’ port to bypass all authentication and authorization controls and publish arbitrary control messages, read and write files anywhere on the ‘master’ server filesystem and steal the secret key used to authenticate to the master as root.”

The attackers can thusly achieve remote command execution as root on both the master and all minions that connect to it.

The vulnerabilities affect all Salt versions prior to 2019.2.4 and 3000.2, which were released last week.

“Adding network security controls that restrict access to the salt master (ports 4505 and 4506 being the defaults) to known minions, or at least block the wider Internet, would also be prudent as the authentication and authorization controls provided by Salt are not currently robust enough to be exposed to hostile networks,” the researchers added.

Active exploitation

F-Secure warned that there are over 6,000 Salt masters exposed to the public Internet, so they chose not to publish a PoC.

But, they said, “any competent hacker will be able to create 100% reliable exploits for these issues in under 24 hours,” and they were right: a few days later a researcher reported their honeypots already being targeted.

Even though SaltStack did send an advanced notice about the critical nature of the flaws and the need for a quick update and additional mitigation actions to their users, not everybody reacted promptly.

During the weekend, attackers successfully leveraged the flaws to gain access to the infrastructure of the LineageOS project, the Ghost blogging platform, and one of the Certificate Transparency logs (CT2) operated by DigiCert. In all three cases, the attackers’ goal was to install cryptominers.

UPDATE (May 4, 2020, 5:10 a.m. PT):

“Upon notification of the CVE, SaltStack took immediate action to remediate the vulnerability, develop and issue patches, and communicate to our customers about the affected versions so they can prepare their systems for update. Although there was no initial evidence that the CVE had been exploited, we have confirmed that some vulnerable, unpatched systems have been accessed by unauthorized users since the release of the patches,” Alex Peay, SVP, Product and Marketing, SaltStack, told Help Net Security.

“We must reinforce how critical it is that all Salt users patch their systems and follow the guidance we have provided outlining steps for remediation and best practices for Salt environment security. It is equally important to upgrade to latest versions of the platform and register with support for future awareness of any possible issues and remediations. As the primary maintainers of the Salt Open Project, trusted by the world’s largest businesses to automate digital infrastructure operations and security, we take this vulnerability and the security of our platform very seriously. More information about our response and handling of CVEs is available in our Knowledge Base.”

UPDATE (May 4, 2020, 9:45 a.m. PT):

“Yesterday, May 3, DigiCert announced that it is deactivating its Certificate Transparency (CT) 2 log server after determining that the key used to sign SCTs may have been exposed via critical SALT vulnerabilities. We do not believe the key was used to sign SCTs outside of the CT log’s normal operation, though as a precaution, CAs that received SCTs from the CT2 log after May 2 at 5 p.m. U.S. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) should receive an SCT from another trusted log,” a DigiCert spokesperson told Help Net Security.

“Three other DigiCert CT logs: CT1, Yeti and Nessie, are not affected as they are run on completely different infrastructure. The impacts are limited to only the CT2 log and no other part of DigiCert’s CA or CT Log systems.”

The spokesperson added that DigiCert has been planning for some time to shut down CT2, in order to move the industry toward their newer and more robust CT logs, Yeti and Nessie.

“We notified the industry of our intention to terminate signing operations of CT2 on May 1 but pushed back the date based on industry feedback. This timeline has now been moved up, with the CT2 log in read-only mode effective May 3,” they explained.

“Because of Google’s implementation of CT that requires SCTs be posted in multiple logs in order for a certificate to be valid, active TLS certificates posted to the CT2 log should continue to work as expected if issued before May 2 at 5 p.m. MDT.”

Organizations look to build resiliency with hybrid and multi-cloud architectures

Hybrid and multi-cloud architectures have become the de-facto standard among organizations, with 53 percent embracing them as the most popular form of deployment.

multi-cloud architectures

Advantages of hybrid and multi-cloud architectures

Surveying over 250 worldwide business executives and IT professionals from a diverse group of technical backgrounds, Denodo’s cloud usage survey revealed that hybrid cloud configurations are the centre of all cloud deployments at 42 percent, followed by public (18 percent) and private clouds (17 percent).

The advantages of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud configurations according to respondents include the ability to diversify spend and skills, build resiliency, and cherry-pick features and capabilities depending on each cloud service provider’s particular strengths, all while avoiding the dreaded vendor lock-in.

The use of container technologies increased by 50 percent year-over-year indicating a growing trend to use it for scalability and portability to the cloud. DevOps professionals continue to look to containerization for production, because it enables reproducibility and the ability to automate deployments.

About 80 percent of the respondents are leveraging some type of container deployment, with Docker being the most popular (46 percent) followed by Kubernetes (40 percent) which is gaining steam, as is evident from the consistent support of all the key cloud providers.

Most popular cloud service providers

A foundational metric for demonstrating cloud adoption maturity, 78 percent of all respondents are running some kind of a workload in the cloud. Over the past year, there has been a positive reinforcement of cloud adoption with at least a 10 percent increase across beginners, intermediate, and advanced adopters.

About 90 percent of those embracing cloud are selecting AWS and Microsoft Azure as their service providers, demonstrating the continued dominance of these front-runners.

But users are not just lifting their on-premises applications and shifting them to either of or both of these clouds; 35 percent said they would re-architect their applications for the best-fit cloud architecture.

For the most popular cloud initiative, analytics and BI came out at the top with two out of three (66 percent) participants claiming to use it for big data analytics projects. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud each has its own specific strengths, but analytics surfaced as the top use case across all three of them. This use case was followed closely by both logical data warehouse (43 percent) and data science (41 percent) in the cloud.

multi-cloud architectures

Data formats

When it comes to data formats, two thirds of the data being used is still in structured format (68 percent), while there is a vast pool of unstructured data that is growing in importance. Cloud object storage (47 percent) along with SaaS data (44 percent) are frequently used to maximize ease of computation and performance optimization.

Further, cloud marketplaces are growing at a phenomenal speed and are becoming more popular. Half (50 percent) of those surveyed are leveraging cloud marketplaces with utility/pay-as-you-go pricing being the most popular incentive (19 percent) followed by its self-service capability/ability to minimize IT dependency (13 percent). Avoiding a long-term commitment also played a role (6 percent).

“As data’s center of gravity shifts to the cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures are becoming the basis of data management, but the challenge of integrating data in the cloud has almost doubled (43 percent),” said Ravi Shankar, SVP and CMO of Denodo.

“Today, users are looking to simplify cloud data integration in a hybrid/multi-cloud environment without having to depend on heavy duty data migration or replication which may be why almost 50 percent of respondents said they are considering data virtualization as a key part of their cloud integration and migration strategy.”

Most enterprises choose multi-cloud strategies, 55% plan to invest in data virtualization

79% of enterprises want better integrated security and governance for their data in the cloud, a survey from AtScale reveals.

multi-cloud strategies

“As more enterprises embrace cloud transformation, IT and data teams face increased pressure to harness the power of data and analytics for business intelligence,” said Christopher Lynch, executive chairman and CEO at AtScale.

“Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies are key to big data analytics. New data regulations and cybersecurity vulnerabilities are creating roadblocks for IT teams looking to use data for business intelligence, which is why data virtualization and data governance are top priorities in 2020.”

The survey polled more than 150 data and analytics leaders, IT/business intelligence practitioners, and business professionals from multiple industries around the globe on their enterprise cloud strategy, and their data and analytics priorities and challenges.

Data governance continues to be a top priority

The survey results reveal the majority of enterprises are choosing a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy, and that data virtualization and data governance are top priorities for big data and analytics leaders. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 79% of enterprises use multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategies – Only 24% of those surveyed they are all in with a single cloud vendor.
  • Companies are implementing data virtualization – 55% of respondents plan to invest in data virtualization in the near future if they are not already.
  • Data governance is a top challenge across the board – 80% of respondents said that data governance is very important to them.

multi-cloud strategies

“With the amount of data sharing happening across platforms and systems, data governance continues to be a top priority across the board with 80% of respondents stating that data governance is very important to them,” said John Mertic, director at ODPi.

“We see open source technologies as pathways towards unifying metadata silos and enabling compliance policies.”

Companies increasingly reporting attacks attributed to foreign governments

More than one in four security managers attribute attacks against their organization to cyberwarfare or nation-state activity, according to Radware.

attacks attributed to foreign governments

Nation-state intrusions soaring

In 2018, 19% of organizations believed they were attacked by a nation-state. That figure increased to 27% in 2019. Companies in North America were more likely to report nation-state attribution, at 36%.

“Nation-state intrusions are among the most difficult attacks to thwart because the agencies responsible often have significant resources, knowledge of potential zero-day exploits, and the patience to plan and execute operations,” says Anna Convery-Pelletier, Chief Marketing Officer at Radware.

“These attacks can result in the loss of sensitive trade, technological, or other data, and security teams may be at a distinct disadvantage.”

These findings come at a time of heightened anxiety for security managers. Organizations are increasingly turning to microservices, serverless architectures, and a mix of multiple cloud environments.

Two in five managers reported using a hybrid environment that included cloud and on-premises data centers, and two in five said they relied on more than one public cloud environment. However, only 10% of respondents felt that their data was more ​secure in public cloud environments.

Security is often an afterthought

As organizations adapt their network infrastructure to enjoy the benefits of these new paradigms (such as microservices and multi-cloud environments), they increase their attack surface and decrease the overall visibility into their traffic​.

For example, 22% of respondents don’t even know if they were attacked, 27% of those who were attacked don’t know the hacker’s motivations, 38% are not sure whether an IoT botnet hit their networks, and 46% are not sure if they suffered an encrypted DDoS attack.

Convery-Pelletier added, “This report finds that security professionals feel as though the battlefield is shifting under their feet. Companies are increasingly adding and relying upon new paradigms, like microservices, public and hybrid clouds, and IoT, which means the infrastructure is harder to monitor for attacks.

“These new technologies force a shift in security implementation into the development teams. Security is often an afterthought as businesses march forward, and there is a misconception that ‘good enough’ is enough.”

The emergence of 5G networks

As the push for 5G grows, there exists an important opportunity to build security into networks at its foundations. ​Despite the increasing buzz around 5G networks, only 26% of carriers responded that they felt well prepared for 5G deployment, while another 32% stated that they were somewhat prepared.

attacks attributed to foreign governments

Be careful what you wish for in terms of IoT

5G promises to advance organizations’ implementation of and the value they derive from IoT technologies, but that promise comes with a corresponding increase in the attack surface. ​When it comes to IoT connected devices, 44% of respondents said malware propagation was their top concern, while lack of visibility followed at 20% and Denial of Service at 20%.

Data loss is top concern

About 30% of businesses stated that data theft as a result of a breach was their top concern following an attack, down from 35% the previous year, followed by service outages at 23%. Meanwhile, 33% said that financial gain is a leading motivation for attacks.

IT professionals deem hybrid cloud as most secure

Enterprises plan to aggressively shift investment to hybrid cloud architectures, with respondents reporting steady and substantial hybrid deployment plans over the next five years, according to a Nutanix survey. Hybrid cloud as the ideal IT operating model The vast majority of 2019 survey respondents (85%) selected hybrid cloud as their ideal IT operating model. Vanson Bourne surveyed 2,650 IT decision-makers in 24 countries around the world about where they’re running their business applications today, where … More

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Getting the Most Out of Your Data in the Cloud with Cloudbreak

There are three common abilities across the cloud providers that I want to focus on and to see how they work together and build on each other to help you maximize agility and data insights in the cloud. They are: cloud storage, running workloads on demand, and elastic resource management. In addition, we’ll talk about […]

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