Cloud Computing: Secure or a Security Risk?
“In a few years, no-one will consider how secure cloud computing is because there will be few alternatives.”
These are the words of cloud computing guru Nick Marshall, managing director of UK-based Giacom World Networks.
His viewpoint represents one side of a thorny debate: how safe is it for businesses to put their data into the cloud? Is the cloud safer than a traditional IT environment?
Security breaches tend to make big headlines: Sony has suffered countless lapses in the past year and in one of the worst cases details of 77,000 PlayStation Network (PSN) users were compromised.
Critics of cloud computing insist its networks are ripe targets for hackers and the Sony incidents and Amazon’s cloud outage in the summer do cast doubt over the state of security. Cloud opponents also claim that while consolidation and virtualization may make an IT environment more manageable, they also create more of a target for social engineering and other potential types of attack.
And the security breaches are clearly spooking some businesses across the world from taking the plunge into the emerging cloud market. It is apparent that several firms have put off moving to the cloud because of security concerns, while others are simply confused. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute showed that less than half of 1,000 US-based IT security experts and compliance officers thought their organizations had adequate technology in place to secure their cloud computing infrastructures. The two groups – IT security and compliance – disagreed sharply on whether the cloud was as secure as on-site servers. They also had differing opinions on who was responsible for cloud data security and what security measures companies should use.
Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, said: “The findings did reveal that security in the cloud is a concern for both groups, especially in IaaS environments.”
He said the biggest concern was that while respondents felt they lacked adequate technologies to secure their cloud environments, ownership of security in the cloud was dispersed throughout the organization.
In Canada a study of business executives by Microsoft Canada found those who were not using cloud-based services (67%) felt they did not know enough to make major decisions about it at this time. The survey indicated that security and privacy were the major barriers for entry into cloud computing for organizations including government and healthcare, whereas security and reliability were the major barriers for the private sector.Continued on the next page