According to the results of a recent Netwrix survey [PDF] of IT professionals at 611 companies worldwide, 69 percent of respondents are afraid that migrating to the cloud will increase the risk of unauthorized access, and 43 percent worry that doing so will increase the risk of account hijacking.

Other leading cloud security concerns include malware infiltrations (36 percent), denial of service (31 percent), insider misuse (26 percent), and insecure APIs (24 percent).

The survey also found that 65 percent of respondents are concerned about cloud security in general, and 40 percent are concerned about their loss of physical control over data in the cloud.

And while 13 percent of respondents reject the idea of adopting cloud technology in the near future, 30 percent of them are ready to reconsider that position if and when cloud security mechanisms are improved.

"We wanted to find out the exact reasons that prevent companies from cloud adoption and taking advantage of all the benefits it offers," Netwrix CEO and co-founder Alex Vovk said in a statement. "The survey revealed the interesting fact that even though the cloud is not a new technology, the cloud market has a good potential to grow further."

"Advanced security solutions and true visibility into what is going on across the cloud infrastructure will help companies minimize security risks, take back control over business-critical assets and accelerate cloud adoption," Vovk added.

Forty-four percent of respondents are using a hybrid cloud deployment model as they transition from on-premises infrastructure to a cloud-based model, and 37 percent have used private clouds in an effort to improve security.

The most popular IT service to be migrated to the cloud is email (50 percent of companies), followed by file sharing (40 percent).

As part of the process of migrating to the cloud, 56 percent of respondents plan to improve their identity and authentication management, 51 percent will use encryption, and approximately 45 percent of medium and large enterprises plan to establish auditing of changes and user activity.

Thirty percent of respondents currently take advantage of improved cloud security, and more than 40 percent say they're ready to invest in additional security guarantees if they're available. Fully 71 percent of respondents see continuous auditing of cloud infrastructure as a very important way of ensuring data integrity in the cloud.

When asked what the best practices are prior to cloud adoption, 66 percent said it's most important to have a well-defined architecture for security, 40 percent said it's important to start with pilot testing, 39 percent said it's key to define the scope of cloud migration, 34 percent said it's important to understand your end users, and 28 percent said it's important to have a well-defined architecture to boost performance.

"Companies show extremely high interest in using cloud technologies, but the majority of them are still in doubt about whether current security mechanisms are able to ensure data integrity," the Netwrix report states. "Since more than 85 percent of companies in one way or another explore cloud computing (evaluate, run trials, consider initial implementation, etc.), the market of cloud security solutions is expected to expand in the near future, which in turn will foster cloud adoption, even among the technology sceptics."

A recent eSecurity Planet article looked at 5 ways to make the public cloud more secure.

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