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IS Public cloud security remains MISSION IMPOSSIBLE

4 essential cloud security tips

By Christine Burns, Network World
October 10, 2011 12:06 AM ET

Network World - More and more enterprise IT shops - as they get comfortable with virtualization practices in their own private clouds - are considering a jump to the public cloud. But before making that leap, consider these pieces of advice from those that have already jumped.

1. Make sure your provider has VM-specific security

"Hypervisors were never really designed to be running in a public environment," says Beth Cohen, senior cloud architect for Cloud Technology Partners, a consultancy.

That fact doesn't necessarily stop them from being secure, Cohen says. But it does require a more elastic security strategy that can deal with the issues of virtual machines (VM) moving around the underlying infrastructure, interacting with cloud applications, and supporting multiple tenants.

Read our other tips, from wireless to cloud computing

Customers going into the public cloud need to understand that perimeter security - while it still needs to be in place in any virtual data center environment - isn't going to help with the internal security of virtual machines, says Michael Berman, CTO of Catbird Networks, a vendor that focuses on virtual machine security.

Both Cohen and Berman have pointed potential cloud consumers to VMware's vShield, which is both a product that offers integrated security services to the underlying VMware hypervisor and a set of APIs that allow third-party security vendors to build security services on top VMware's platform.

VMware's Dean Coza, director of product management for security products, points out that a dozen security vendors announced products that tap into vShield to deliver virtual machine security products at last month's VMworld conference.

But VMware is only one of the virtualization software vendors out there and the company has said very little about how these tools will help lock down other popular VMs from Microsoft and Citrix

Experts describe the top cloud security concern

2. Figure out a way to lockdown endpoints

Predictions for mobile device sales are staggering. Forrester says tablet sales will hit 208 million by 2014. Gartner contends that 1.1 billion smartphones will be sold in 2015. Enterprises moving to the cloud must brace themselves for many more of these consumer-type devices trying to get to corporate data and applications in the cloud.

"The BYOD [bring your own device] to work issue is huge because now you have devices you don't own trying to access your data over networks that you don't control," says Tom Clare, senior director of product marketing at Websense, a content security vendor.

Jacob Braun, president and COO of Waka Digital Media, a managed security service provider and consultancy in western Massachusetts, says one way to help limit the number of users wanting to run personal devices on the corporate network is to set up policy roadblocks.

These include limiting what they can do on the machine while attached to the network, requiring them to pay for mobile malware protections and confiscating the device if there is a security issue.

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