The consequences of inadequate cloud security

* Cloud computing providers are making efforts to embrace security in a way that reassures their customers

Welcome to the Cloud Security newsletter.

The benefits of cloud computing are many, some of them financial and therefore very attractive at this time. They include access to computing resources without capital investment, reduction of data center infrastructure and power, reduction of PC processing power and cost, agility to attack projects quicker and finish them sooner, the ability to deploy IT staff elsewhere and letting someone else worry about keeping infrastructure and software versions current. There are probably more.

This computing mode, supported by virtual machines that create more instances of applications dynamically to accommodate need, can also improve business processes by enabling, for example, the rapid expansion of processing power available to customer-facing Web applications as demand for those applications surges.

The downside is that businesses choosing to use cloud computing give up direct control of those corporate assets running in the cloud. Data and applications accessed through the cloud is in the cloud, not in a privately held corporate data center where the owner controls everything from the physical security to authentication and authorization to intrusion prevention to firewalling to virus protection.

The consequences of inadequate cloud security are great. The loss of corporate intellectual property is near the top of the list as is loss of corporate reputation should a breach result in public admission that sensitive personal data has been stolen.

For their part, cloud computing providers are aware of the risks and are making efforts to embrace security in a way that reassures their customers. Exactly what the standard should be for those efforts is evolving. So there is a lot to consider when developing strategies for how to use cloud computing and how to use it safely.

There is also the question of hiring outside businesses that handle security for their customers from a cloud-based infrastructure. Are they effective and are they secure themselves? How can customers know.

The phenomenon of services in the cloud is well established. Some say it will become the dominant model for network infrastructure as issues of reliability and security are convincingly addressed.

It is the intent of this newsletter to track these issues and help businesses make informed decisions about them. The goal is to provide valuable cloud security information to readers, so please participate with comments, questions and suggestions. And thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022