Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Dynatrace Blog, Automic Blog, Allwyn Sequeira, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

Containers Expo Blog: Article

A New Approach to Cloud Computing Security

Arguably the greatest barrier to businesses taking full advantage of cloud computing is the issue of security

Security Pavillion at Cloud Expo

Arguably the greatest barrier to businesses taking full advantage of cloud computing is the issue of security. Recent high-profile breaches of the cloud (the attack on Twitter being perhaps the most publicized) have only served to heighten concerns.

It's true; the potential consequences of a breach of cloud security are catastrophic, and this knowledge has served to make the debate rage even more fiercely. A cloud security issue within an organization has the potential to be a major business crisis, and against a backdrop of heightened public awareness of data loss and privacy issues such as ID theft, it's understandable.

But there's no denying that cloud computing is gaining momentum and will continue to become more and more mainstream. This year, for example, the UK government announced that it would be developing a cloud infrastructure (the ‘G-Cloud'), and the offer of flexible, low-cost and easily scalable IT means that many businesses are relying more and more heavily on cloud-based applications, storage and security.

The result is that the industry must get to grips with the security concerns. Fast.

Concern...or Confusion?
One of the key questions is whether or not security concerns are justified. Is it the case that unnecessary fears are preventing organizations from getting the most from the wealth of benefits that cloud-based services can offer?

It's a bit of both in my opinion. First, there's certainly a lot of confusion. A recent report by Gartner [1] suggests that most organizations don't fully understand their business' existing security provision and therefore cannot accurately pinpoint exactly where the gaps are when it comes to working with a cloud-based provider.

Furthermore, a lot of the confusion - and concern - arises from the (largely incorrect) assumption that cloud security is a complex issue. Security of the cloud is not necessarily as complex as some would have you imagine.

Detached Data
One of the key ways in which cloud computing differs to other IT services is that the relationship between cloud service provider and client is detached, often with significant geographical separation between parties. In addition, the ‘on-demand' nature of the relationship means that the client has very little influence on the operational practices of the provider. The cloud business model has moved far away from nurturing long-term partnerships, focusing instead on ease of initiation (and termination!) of relationships.

Combine this with the often large numbers of potential cloud providers with whom an organization may have a relationship at any one time and the greater level of data sharing inherent in many cloud services, and the issues become clear.

One of the key issues that arises from a security perspective as a result is the greater transfer of data in and out of a company's own IT infrastructure. Cloud computing differs from other similar IT services by moving data further from its original owner. As data storage and email outsourcing become two of the most popular modern cloud-based services, security fears over the transfer of data, and later, over who has access to this data, remain significant concerns.

However the numbers of cloud providers involved and the level of sharing that is inherent with many cloud-based services may well prove to make the task of securing the cloud itself an almost impossible one.

The key problem is that by the time data has reached the cloud, it's normally too late. As soon as a company's data leaves the relatively safe confines of its own IT infrastructure, the potential is there for it to get into the wrong hands. For this reason, it's at the boundary between the organization and its external environment that security has to be the key priority for those looking to use cloud-based services.

Confidence in the Cloud
With all this talk of risk and security, it's easy to forget the rewards of cloud services. Cloud computing is responsible for offering some of the greatest efficiencies within IT for decades. Furthermore, cloud computing forms the basis for a range of cutting-edge communication tools that not only provide new ways to engage with customers and colleagues, but demonstrate that your business is agile and forward-thinking.

While security is an important consideration, let's not forget that security must essentially be about enablement. It's no good having security that operates by preventing access, clamping down etc.

Security in this day and age must be about giving businesses the confidence to take advantage of new technology. This in turn, will lead to better communication, connectivity and innovation.

For Your Eyes Only
The key premise on which the foundations for safe and effective use of the cloud is this: That there will always be data that is so sensitive that it simply cannot be allowed to leave the confines of your business.

In the case of highly sensitive material, the best course of action in most instances is to prevent it from leaving your organization in the first place. (It is classic psychology that sensitive or confidential material is considered less so the further away it gets from the original creator.) What is therefore needed is highly sophisticated automated checking of outbound data to ensure that data that shouldn't leave the organization does indeed remain there.

For this reason, the key priority for improving the security of cloud computing lies not in the security of the cloud itself but in the routes in to and out of the cloud. Consider the analogy of tangible security risks to homes and business premises; it's the access points that are always the weak point. Therefore it's vital to ensure the ‘windows' and ‘doors' of cloud computing are made as secure as possible. Addressing the security of your company's specific cloud entry and exit points is the best - and simplest - way to get a grip on the potential issues involved to enable businesses to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer.

Inbound from the Cloud
Many believe that cloud-based email is the only way to attain the best levels of efficiency and cost reduction. Indeed, although cloud-based email offerings can be compelling, it isn't the only way of doing things. In fact, when you consider the often quite significant issues regarding trust of a third-party cloud provider, cloud-based email can lose its shine. Allowing a third party to have unfettered access to all your incoming mail has major security implications, and requires complete trust and reliance on the organization providing the service.

Advances in appliance-based technology now mean that non-cloud based email security applications are as effective at reducing spam and malware with similar efficiencies to cloud-based services, but without the risk of handing all email data to a third party.

Keeping It Simple
Security of the cloud does not need to cause concern, nor should it be a barrier to using cloud services. Businesses simply need to ensure they have fully understood the risks their particular organization faces through using cloud-based services, and ensure that their security will enable them to use cloud services with confidence.

Collaboration and openness (both key cloud computing premises) are great attributes for many types of technology, and security nowadays must shift to focus on enablement rather than prevention. But collaboration and sharing is one thing when it's just you and your home PC and you are taking individual responsibility for the potential consequences of your actions. The same is not true for a company IT system where this way of working and engaging with customers and suppliers, though often commercially advantageous, carries far greater risks and therefore needs a level of corporate governance.

While it's easy to assume, when looking to adopt cloud-based services, that a third party may be a safer pair of hands, the reality is that there are no guarantees, and even if there is someone else to blame, the potential damage to your business could be catastrophic The only way to ensure your data is not compromised by the cloud is to control what is going to and from it in the first place, and make sure your control over what goes to and from the cloud is watertight.

More Stories By Alf Pilgrim

Alf Pilgrim is CTO of content security company, Clearswift. He joined Clearswift in 2006 as vice president, engineering where he is responsible for the product portfolio and technology development strategy and leads Clearswift’s drive to deliver policy-based security solutions. He was previously chief technology officer and director of product development and support at Northgate Information Solutions plc, the premier supplier of software and services to the UK public sector and human resource markets. He was part of the team that oversaw a 400% increase in shareholder value and corporate entry into the FTSE250. Alf holds a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds, is a chartered engineer, chartered IT professional and a member of the British Computer Society.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
rlebherz 11/20/09 03:42:00 PM EST

Alf,

Interesting article. I think the Cloud services and cloud infrastructure lines are a bit blurred, but I agree with most of what you are saying.

Dont underestimate the SLA's role in accountability. For companies that have dynamic requirements and no down time can be afforded, make sure you have very tight SLAs. For example, OpSource provides a 100% SLA in the cloud and 100%SLA around production application environments. Now 100% is ideally perfect, it comes down to accountability, you put you faith in us, we should do what we say we will do. And if something happens, you should be paid back. We also have 24x7 phone support where you can actually talk to a real person and you get account managers when you sign up who can help you work through business related issues. Imaging that, people in charge of the relationship and accountability.

Also, A New Approach To Cloud Security Is Already Her! From a Cloud Infrastructure and operations perspective
Check out OpSource.net and OpSourcecloud.net

If you want to move everything need for delivering your production environments into the cloud check out OpSource.net

If you want to move your infrastructure into the clouds, check out OpSourcecloud.net

Also, RLE01 will get you 20% off.

@CloudExpo Stories
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.
Building custom add-ons does not need to be limited to the ideas you see on a marketplace. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sukhbir Dhillon, CEO and founder of Addteq, will go over some adventures they faced in developing integrations using Atlassian SDK and other technologies/platforms and how it has enabled development teams to experiment with newer paradigms like Serverless and newer features of Atlassian SDKs. In this presentation, you will be taken on a journey of Add-On and Integration ...
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Niagara Networks exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you ...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and micro services. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your contain...