Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Security, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Blog Feed Post

Security and the Cloud

Will focus shift to the customer?

I was talking with Avanade’s Senior Director for Enterprise Security, Ace Swerling, earlier today. The conversation touched on a wide range of security and identity management issues that I’ll probably return to, but one of Ace’s comments brought my attention back to an issue that has been nagging at me for a while.

As I’m sure we all know, security concerns often figure highly in discussions about moving Enterprise applications and data to the Cloud. Indeed, I spoke with other Avanade executives earlier this year to report on a survey they had commissioned that suggested just how significant these concerns can be for potential customers.

In today’s conversation, Ace appeared to agree (as do I) with the frequent assertion that Cloud providers’ own systems will tend to be more secure than those that the majority of potential customers have in-house today. These service providers have their entire reputation riding on their security, it’s absolutely core to their business model, and they can invest in the facilities, procedures and people to get it right. They’re not claiming to be invincible; nothing is. But the good ones should certainly be capable of being as secure as anything else connected to a network.

Which brings me to the ‘problem;’ a data centre like the one in the video below can be physically and virtually secure, equipped with the best hardware, software, procedures and brains that money can buy.

Video of Sun's SuperNAP data centre in Las Vegas

And then you ruin it by letting the customers in.

The customers who open up all the ports you so carefully closed by default. The customers who use ‘password’ as their password. The customers who deploy sloppy code that’s riddled with holes. The customers who, frankly, are just human… and who don’t live and breathe security in the same way that at least someone inside the data centre probably does.

There are plenty of checks, balances and procedures in place to ensure that the idiocy of customer A cannot impact upon the services used by customers B, C, and Z, but what can the data centre do to protect customer A from themselves once they start over-riding default settings and policies?

Maybe, you might say, we should leave customer A to their own devices? If they want to open themselves up to hackers then let them.

The problem, of course, is that Cloud Computing is still pretty new. There are plenty of critics and pundits itching to break the news that “Sun’s Cloud,” “Amazon’s Cloud,” “Microsoft’s Cloud,” or “Google’s Cloud” is clearly not to be trusted because some customer of that Cloud got hacked. It wouldn’t be news if some small startup no one has ever heard of was hacked. It most certainly would be if they were hosted on EC2, unfair as that might seem.

“Amazon Cloud insecure,” the headlines would scream. Werner Vogels could argue forever that the customer ignored safeguards and contravened best practice, but who would be listening? The stock would tank, IBM and VMware would subtly massage their marketing collateral to emphasise their on-premise innovations and downplay the new-fangled Cloud stuff they’ve been talking about in recent months.

So, I wonder, which will be the first big Cloud provider to turn the tables on the customer? Sure, Cloud providers will still be measured on how secure they are… but maybe they’ll start asking questions about how secure their potential customers are, before letting them in the door. Health metaphors might be used, arguing that those without the necessary immunisations and vaccinations put innocent third parties at risk. In talking it through with Ace he suggested a motoring metaphor, pointing out that manufacturer and dealer warranties are void if the customer doesn’t do their part in ensuring that the car is properly maintained and regularly serviced.

It could actually be quite an easy proposition to sell to many current and potential customers; and maybe you could even provide discounts to those who scored highly in some notional assessment of their securedness.

What would such a relationship between customer and provider look like, would it divert the heat from the service provider when things beyond their control do go wrong, and who is going to make this move first?

Maybe, as the Cloud gets big enough to be serious business, the days of simply letting anyone with a credit card into the data centre are numbered?

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

Comments (0)

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...