There is confusion over what qualifies as “the cloud,” according to a new consumer survey. Despite marking that they use at least one of several popular cloud-based applications, such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive, over 30% of consumers subsequently responded that they do not use or access information in the cloud.

Clutch (, a B2B [business-to-business] ratings and reviews firm, designed the survey to gauge consumers’ knowledge and habits regarding cloud usage. When it comes to understanding which applications are part of the cloud, experts say that the confusion is understandable.

“From private cloud, managed private cloud, to in-house and public cloud, there are many different technologies which can be referred to as cloud, but are very general,” said Alexander Martin-Bale, director of Cloud and Data Platforms at adaware, an anti-spyware and anti-virus software program. “The reality is that knowing exactly when you’re using it, even for a technical professional, is not always simple.”

Over half of the respondents (55%) say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident in their cloud knowledge. However, 22% of respondents who do consider themselves very confident in their cloud knowledge did not know or were unsure about whether or not they use the cloud.

Lucas Roh, CEO at Bigstep, says this is likely due to the overuse of the cloud as a buzzword. “It boils down to the fact that the word ‘cloud’ has been used everywhere in the press,” he said. “People have heard about it, and think that they conceptually know how it works, even if they don’t… They’re only thinking in terms of the application being used, not the actual technology behind those applications.”

When it comes to the security of the cloud, 42% of respondents believe the responsibility falls equally on the cloud provider and user.

Chris Steffen, technical director at Cryptzone, says there has been a shift in how people view the security of the cloud. “I think the dynamic is changing along with the information security paradigm,” said Steffen. “People are realizing ­– ‘Hey, maybe I do need to change my password every five years,’ or something similar. You can’t expect everything to be secure forever.”

Based on the findings, Clutch recommends that consumers seek more education on cloud computing, as well as implement simple additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication. These and other security measures are increasingly important as the cloud becomes more ubiquitous.

“The cloud is not going anywhere. If anything, it’s going to become more and more an integral part of the stuff that we do every single day, whether we know that we’re using it or not,” said Steffen.

Clutch surveyed 1,001 respondents across the United States. All respondents indicated that they use one of the following applications: iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, iDrive, and Amazon Cloud Drive.