2secure"Shareconomy" describes the sharing and collective use of information that can lead to increased transparency within a company by providing a broader access to content such as analyses, proposals or customer reports. Besides, it can save time, while boosting efficiency, and enhance the emergence of numerous new business models. All these advantages, driven by the digital industry with its huge variety of applications, however, entail at the same time many risks, thus, implying a secure exchange of data.

Special attention needs to be paid to cloud applications, as nowadays almost all aspects of digital life are closely linked to them. The global analyst firm Ovum indicated that the cloud provides significant problems and opportunities for the identity and access management (IAM) industry, as it is a disruptive technology that is challenging the status quo within the IAM sector.

Further, the company’s latest research revealed the impact of cloud computing and identity-as-a-service (IaaS) on the IAM sector and the assumption that traditional platform vendors are coming under pressure from a new generation of cloud-based specialists that are changing the way that IAM services will be consumed in the future.

Fact is that almost 80% of businesses already make some use of cloud services and that strategic as well as ad hoc adoption of cloud facilities is on the rise. Therefore, solutions are more than ever necessary now to protect information from viruses, worms and malware.

“The issue when working with locally sourced services involves what is becoming commonly known as “shadow IT”,” said Andrew Kellett, principal analyst for IT security solutions and author of the report. “In some organisations “shadow IT sprawl” is already presenting significant infrastructure, control and security problems. This is because services are often open at the point of delivery, and can allow anyone to sign up and create identities and passwords, while utilizing information systems that the organisation does not control.”

Threats for businesses

On behalf of business organizations, their users, business partners and customers there is an argument being put forward that the only secure and acceptable way to log into business systems, including cloud services, is through an identity management system. Mainstream IAM platform vendors make a strong case for using their facilities to maintain secure access when moving between on-premise systems and cloud-based applications. Some are also reconfiguring their offerings to deliver IAM from the cloud.

The question is, are they in a position to deliver on their promises? The answer is somewhat mixed because some have well advanced cloud strategies and others are just starting out. However, as with all issues relating to the management of cloud services and identity in the cloud, the maturity is not there, nor can it be,” says Kellett. Business requirements are not clear, and both enterprises and their service providers have work to do to clarify future requirements.

There is another trend at the center of cloud computing and the Shareconomy is right now: “Bring Your Own Everything” as an extension of the BYOD phenomenon. In the future, companies need to train their employees more in dealing with information and set binding rules. Special attention needs to be paid to mobile security, as smartphones and tablets enable users not only to access data flexibly, but provide cybercriminals with a gateway to enterprise networks.

The continually growing connectedness of anyone with any system anywhere constantly provides new targets for hackers. Industrial plants, for instance, are increasingly becoming the focus of attacks, often individual machines and robots are targeted which have outdated operating systems or security holes.

At the same time the sharing of information has also affected the energy market. With smart grids and smart meters, consumption data is continuously exchanged, making new security solutions necessary.

Risks for consumers

Security risks for consumers shouldn’t be underestimated: consumers have a variety of Internet-enabled devices at their fingertips, and use them extensively - depending on the location, occasion, down to their whim for photos, chats, websites or shopping online, making an effective cross-device protection crucial.

Internet security companies, such as e.g. Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro or Kaspersky, provide solutions in the retail segment that center user data and enable secure browsing - whether with a PC, Mac, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating that provides a common platform for tablets, smartphones and desktop PCs, raises questions, too: Is it an open invitation to hackers, worms and viruses? We will see.

By Daniela La Marca