Most companies don't allow cloud-based file synchronization but employees are keen to do so anyway (Photo: Varonis)

Cloud-based data sharing poses major risks for companies, according to a new report.

"There is potentially a wave of disruption that could spread over corporations," data specialist Varonis Systems warns in a report on what is referred to as "shareconomy."

Shareconomy is also the keynote theme of the upcoming CeBIT high-tech fair, which takes place in Hanover in early March. The term refers to a societal trend from owning toward sharing. It applies to various forms of content, including music, books, and data.

Varonis notes that in many companies documents, e-mails, excel tables and even entire CRM databases are uploaded into the cloud without major reservations on the part of corporate managers.

The trend is driven by employees, who are increasingly working at home or while traveling. "So naturally, they are turning to consumer friendly tools to help them coordinate all their work environments," Varonis said.

The consultants warn that cloud-based file synchronization can easily lead to IT managers losing control over data. "The biggest consequence of file synchronization services is that security is breached," Varonis said. "Private data can become public property, which means that all kinds of rules have been broken."

A Varonis poll of IT managers found that 67 pc of executives aren't sure where corporate data or stored. Moreover 74 pc of the companies surveyed didn't have a process in place to track which files had been transferred to the cloud.

Varonis noted as an example of the trend that Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite is fully integrated with its Skydrive cloud storage service. That makes storing data in the cloud part of normal work procedures, Varonis said.

"Without a doubt, the new cloud services of the shareconomy pose clear security problems," said Arne Jacobsen, Varonis director for the German-speaking countries.

The Varonis poll found that IT managers aren't opposed to cloud-based file synchronization, provided the proper controls are in place. "The majority - 70 pc - said they would use these services if their controls were as robust as the controls available on their internal systems," Varonis said.

Varonis will use its presence at the CeBIT fair to offer IT managers a range of concepts, processes and solutions dealing with the risks of cloud storage.