Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Kaazing Blog, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Ian Khan, Dennis Griffin

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
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
IBM’s Blue Box Cloud, powered by OpenStack, is now available in any of IBM’s globally integrated cloud data centers running SoftLayer infrastructure. Less than 90 days after its acquisition of Blue Box, IBM has integrated its Blue Box Cloud Dedicated private-cloud-as-a-service into its broader portfolio of OpenStack® based solutions. The announcement, made today at the OpenStack Silicon Valley event, further highlights IBM’s continued support to deliver OpenStack solutions across all cloud depl...
In their Live Hack” presentation at 17th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty and Paul Fletcher, Chief Security Evangelists at Alert Logic, will provide the audience with a chance to see a live demonstration of the common tools cyber attackers use to attack cloud and traditional IT systems. This “Live Hack” uses open source attack tools that are free and available for download by anybody. Attendees will learn where to find and how to operate these tools for the purpose of testing their own IT infrastructu...
Red Hat is investing in Tesora, the number one contributor to OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) also ranked among the top 20 companies contributing to OpenStack overall. Tesora, the company bringing OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) to the enterprise, has announced that Red Hat and others have invested in the company as a part of Tesora's latest funding round. The funding agreement expands on the ongoing collaboration between Tesora and Red Hat, which dates back to Febr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
WSM International, the pioneer and leader in server migration services, has announced an agreement with WHOA.com, a leader in providing secure public, private and hybrid cloud computing services. Under terms of the agreement, WSM will provide migration services to WHOA.com customers to relocate some or all of their applications, digital assets, and other computing workloads to WHOA.com enterprise-class, secure cloud infrastructure. The migration services include detailed evaluation and planning...
Cloud and datacenter migration innovator AppZero has joined the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance Program. AppZero is a fast, flexible way to move Windows Server applications from any source machine – physical or virtual – to any destination server, in any cloud or datacenter, using its patented container technology. AppZero’s container is also called a Virtual Application Appliance (VAA). To facilitate Microsoft Azure onboarding, AppZero has two purpose-built offerings: AppZero SP for Azure,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
In 2014, the market witnessed a massive migration to the cloud as enterprises finally overcame their fears of the cloud’s viability, security, etc. Over the past 18 months, AWS, Google and Microsoft have waged an ongoing battle through a wave of price cuts and new features. For IT executives, sorting through all the noise to make the best cloud investment decisions has become daunting. Enterprises can and are moving away from a "one size fits all" cloud approach. The new competitive field has ...
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and a...
Enterprises can achieve rigorous IT security as well as improved DevOps practices and Cloud economics by taking a new, cloud-native approach to application delivery. Because the attack surface for cloud applications is dramatically different than for highly controlled data centers, a disciplined and multi-layered approach that spans all of your processes, staff, vendors and technologies is required. This may sound expensive and time consuming to achieve as you plan how to move selected applicati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
This Enterprise Strategy Group lab validation report of the NEC Express5800/R320 server with Intel® Xeon® processor presents the benefits of 99.999% uptime NEC fault-tolerant servers that lower overall virtualized server total cost of ownership. This report also includes survey data on the significant costs associated with system outages impacting enterprise and web applications. Click Here to Download Report Now!
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes ab...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
Organizations from small to large are increasingly adopting cloud solutions to deliver essential business services at a much lower cost. According to cyber security experts, the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks are on the rise, causing alarm to businesses and customers across a variety of industries. To defend against exploits like these, a company must adopt a comprehensive security defense strategy that is designed for their business. In 2015, organizations such as United Airlines, Sony...
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 ab...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of ...