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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cloud Computing Security

With the surge in demand for cloud-based services such as cloud storage, cloud backup, and software, the issue of cloud computing security is more relevant than ever.  Cloud computing security refers to the steps taken by cloud providers to protect cloud-based data and applications.  It is important to understand that cloud computing security is not the same as software security offered through a cloud service (cloud-based anti-virus software, for example).

Despite the many benefits and advantages of cloud services, there are also many security risks involved with using them, especially when dealing with critical data and applications.  These risks have been divided into three dimensions, as well as the industry’s solutions for them.

Security and Privacy
The first area of cloud computing security is Security and Privacy.  This area of security basically deals with two very important things:  That the data is not lost, and that the data is only accessible by authorized persons.
This is done by several ways.  The first is Data Protection.  Basically, data protection means that the cloud provider stores your data separately from other users’.  Providers also take steps to ensure that data does not get lost when in transit.  The second is Application Security.  Cloud providers subject their in-cloud applications through rigorous testing to make sure all applications are secure.  Of course, there is also Identity Management, where cloud providers verify an authorized party’s identity to allow it to access to the said secure information and applications.  It also goes without saying that cloud hosting companies ensure easy and reliable access to your data and applications.
Cloud providers also offer Privacy in the sense that all important and private data (such as passport numbers, credit card numbers) are masked and encrypted, available only to be accessed by authorized persons.  Of course, the physical infrastructure of cloud servers is also under constant protection and security.

Another aspect of cloud computing security is Compliance.  Cloud providers have to adhere to the many regulations and policies that regulate data storage and use, so that their clients and customers can use their services while still complying with these regulations.
Part of Compliance requirements is the productions of audit logs and reports, in case they may be needed in a forensic investigation.  It’s also important that cloud service providers have a business continuity plans in case of an emergency or natural disaster.  It goes without saying that data recovery plans are also required.  There are also other compliance standards that pertain to the maintenance of data centers.
Cloud computing security has certainly come a long way from where it started, and rightly so.  It plays an extremely vital role in convincing users to start switching over to cloud based services.  No matter how advantageous and cost-efficient cloud services are, people will still be reluctant to use them if cloud computing security is not up to par.  Thankfully, the industry understands the importance of increasing and improving the security of cloud-based data and applications, so the future of cloud software looks pretty bright.

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