The cloud offers an array of benefits to businesses, including accessibility and greater control over applications. Not surprisingly then, we have seen a significant growth in the adoption of cloud and mobile applications on a global scale and Okta’s recent Businesses at Work Report highlights that an increasing number of employees use phones and tablets to access both personal and work-related information. However, with this increased uptake of the cloud and the rise of devices in the workplace, security concerns have escalated as data breaches continue to rise.

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Security is a major obstacle when it comes to adopting digital technologies and now more than ever it’s crucial that organisations keep cloud applications and sensitive data protected. What can we do to eliminate these challenges and ensure companies adopt cloud and mobile technology easily and securely?

Data breaches on the rise

The increasing number of data breaches and leaks of personal information over the past few years has put security at the top of the agenda for many businesses. This is supported by 51% of nearly 2,000 senior-decision makers demonstrating concern about security as a challenge for adopting digital technologies, according to Accenture.

Businesses now realise that to maintain the security of end-user computing they need to control the growing number of users, devices and applications that span traditional company and network boundaries. It’s important that IT departments make the transition to ensure that the focus is put on people as opposed to the device. By utilizing “what you have” with simpler and more secure methods of verification — such as SMS, push notifications for phones and watches or hard tokens — companies can ensure users are who they say they are, resulting in the reduced risk of access by unauthorised parties.

It’s important that IT departments make the transition to ensure that the focus is put on people as opposed to the device.

The rise of MFA

Organisations are increasingly leveraging multi-factor authentication methods that are easy to use and more secure, instead of traditional security questions — such as “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was the name of your first pet?”— as a second form of verification. This demonstrates that due to the countless number of breaches, businesses are eager to put the necessary measures in place in order to protect themselves. Traditionally, businesses have used a second factor to authenticate users to protect VPN gateways. With companies putting more sensitive data in cloud based apps, such as email content in Office 365, sales data in Salesforce.com and employee information in Workday, they need this second factor for cloud apps. That’s why we see the move towards SMS, soft token and hard token multi-factor authentication to ensure the information is only being accessed by approved stakeholders.

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As more data is transferred to the cloud and remote access of that data is required, diverse industries of different sizes are adopting multi-factor authentication to achieve strong authentication and user verification, as highlighted in Okta’s report.

Gaining access anywhere — and knowing about it

As flexible and remote working arrangements become more prominent and employees have access to the cloud anywhere and from multiple devices, organisations need to know who has access to what applications and where they are accessing it from. For businesses to keep their environment secure while giving people access to the best tools, their systems need to know who the users are and in any context — they need to bring on an identity management solution that will provide users with a single-access point. By implementing a comprehensive identity management solution, organisations can gain visibility and control over different applications, access points and users. In turn, users can easily access every application they need via one portal with a seamless user experience.

it is important for organisations to add the necessary security layers

With the rise of digitalisation and the momentous increase in cloud adoption, it is important for organisations to add the necessary security layers to ensure they protect their constituents and their most valuable and sensitive information. The transition from traditional security questions and the increasing adoption of multi-factor authentication and single-access points demonstrates that companies value the additional layers of security now, more than ever. If they understand the importance of gaining visibility of users they can realise the true benefits of operating in a cloud environment.