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Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Cloud

An explosion of cloud-based collaborative networked offices in 2016

An explosion of cloud-based collaborative networked office in 2016

More companies in Asia are moving towards a cloud-based, “collaborative networked” workplace to harness greater productivity and teamwork, overcoming geographical or physical barriers and offering more flexible working arrangements.

As Singapore is the regional hub for most global companies and their employees are often road warriors, a borderless collaborative networked office infrastructure is needed to keep them connected. This trend also opens opportunities for those who need flexible working arrangements such as working mothers or millennials who don’t view “office as a specific location” and prefer “virtual” offices in more relaxed environments. 

In 2016, we saw an explosion of cloud-based unified communications offerings, especially those with mobile applications, with smartphones being the mobile device of choice. In 2017, the trend will continue with greater impetus.

Having said that, we believe that the growth will gravitate towards the hybrid options, rather than the pure cloud-based platform, largely due to the cybersecurity vulnerabilities associated with the latter.

Need for enhanced cybersecurity

2016 also saw the need for enhanced cybersecurity. Incidences of ransomware, which holds business data hostage until a fee is paid, have taken a sharp upturn this year. In fact, a recent industry study found that nearly half of all U.S. businesses have experienced at least one ransomware attack in the past year alone.

Instead of trying to break through cutting-edge perimeter security attackers capitalised on the carelessness of employees to infiltrate corporate networks and take data hostage leveraging crude techniques.

Cloud-computing has taken off in a big way. Unfortunately, cloud security has also been compromised as highlighted by the aftermath of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack on domain name service provider DYN. Household names such as Paypal and Twitter experienced disruptions in service. Amazon’s AWS service was also affected. Many companies which host their environments on Amazon’s cloud found themselves unable to serve their customers during the attack. 

And closer to home, we saw the first attacks of its kind when Starhub confirmed in October that its service was disrupted due to “…intentional and likely malicious distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on our (Starhub’s) domain name servers (DNS)…”

The momentum towards cloud computing will continue in 2017 but the damage wrought by simple attacks have exposed cracks in many organisation’s cybersecurity strategies. Cloud providers can offer better security but it can also introduce new risks.  Businesses must develop plans to mitigate these new threats if they hope to fully utilise the potential provided by the cloud.