Last updated: 21 March 2014
In the ever-changing technology landscape, one thing is for sure—the cloud is here to stay, and it can be a massive-scale opportunity for technology service providers. Gartner predicts that the worldwide market for cloud computing will grow 18.5 percent this year to $131 billion. Even though usage of cloud services is growing remarkably, there are still skeptics. In fact, the Future of Cloud Computing Survey showed security is still the top inhibitor. Of the 855 business users, IT decision makers and cloud vendors surveyed, 46 percent cited security as the main barrier to cloud adoption.
So what can cloud service providers (CSPs) do to ease some of the security concerns of small businesses and enterprise IT decision makers who are looking to move their most important assets into the cloud? One of the easiest and most effective actions is to provide a multi-factor authentication solution for their users.
We blog frequently about how using a user name and passwords password protocol is a risky business, especially where organizations and individuals are housing sensitive user information and corporate data on the web. In cloud computing, the lack of multi-factor authentication could lead to account compromises if the provider is breached—just look back to the breaches of 2011 and 2012.
Adding more layers of authentication during logon will tell the cloud service that you as a user are really you, with certainty. This is the only way a CSP can trust your user identity, and you can trust that no one other than you is accessing your services. An extra layer, two-factor or multi-factor authentication, can be in the form of one-time passwords (OTPs) with a mobile phone or other authentication devices for simple, convenient access, or use a certificate-based PKI authentication on a smart card for higher levels of assurance.
An additional layer of security is not only a benefit for the end users, but also for the CSP. In the ultra-competitive world of the rapidly growing range of cloud services, differentiators are a necessity to create true customer loyalty. Multi-factor access benefits both sides, providing cloud users the added security they desire, while increasing adoption and loyalty for the CSP.