More than half of UK chief financial officers (CFOs) are concerned about the perceived security risks of outsourcing the management of their IT infrastructure.

A survey of 100 CFOs from mid-sized organisations found that 56 per cent were concerned about the security of sensitive customer or commercial data, while only 34 per cent said that they fully understand the benefits of moving to the cloud. Less than a third (28 per cent) stated that they know the difference between private and public clouds

The research also found that high-profile media stories around IT outages or data losses are heightening these fears, with nearly half (45 per cent) of the respondents admitting that such cases make them more inclined to keep their data in-house, despite the cost implications.

Commenting on the results, Keith Tilley, managing director UK and executive vice president Europe for SunGard Availability Services who sponsored the results, said: “It's clear there remains a great deal of uncertainty around the cloud among the CFO community.

“The findings suggest that organisations are looking for a solution which offers the key benefits of the cloud, such as cost savings and increased agility, but where data is stored in a fully-resilient, secure data centre and where they can have control over it.

“This is exactly what the private cloud offers, but it seems nearly three-quarters of UK CFOs are missing out on this as they wrestle with the distinction between private and public cloud computing.”

Dr Paul Booth of the IT faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said: “Many are looking at the cloud to provide mainstream financial applications which were until recently very much restricted to traditional ‘on premises' delivery.

“For our members the main issues are clear: principally concerns over security and loss of control. However, the large attendance at the event was strong evidence that finance professionals are serious about getting to grips with those concerns and seeing if they can mitigate the risks and reap the benefits of the cloud approach.”