Cloud Security: Danger (and Opportunity) Ahead

In the first in his series of "Clearing the Cloud" columns, security expert Ariel Silverstone explores the dangers of cloud computing and outlines security best practices to make it work.

The dramatic change in the rate of adoption and the amount of discussion taking place regarding cloud computing demands that this technology, or rather a set of related technologies, continue to evolve utilizing a security-sensitive design.

We approach quickly the point in which the amount of data and of processing in the cloud will be not only unmanageable but also pose a security and related privacy risk to the users of the data, and to people who the data concerns. [Related: Cloud Computing: Making the Right Choices] Cisco CEO: Cloud Computing a 'Security Nightmare']

In this series of articles, I do not intend to solve the problem of security in the cloud. My intent is to define the problem and propose several salient ways to address it. As always, comments are welcome. [Related: Cloud Computing: Making the Right Choices]

TerminologyWhile the term "cloud computing" may be new, the idea certainly is not. Just look at the greatly varying definitions I found while researching this article. These include all of the following technologies:

  • 1. The grid
  • 2. VMWare and Xen-type virtual machines
  • 3. IBM-type mainframes
  • 4. Amazon-type flexible storage
  • 5. Intel VTX-type hypervisors
  • 6. Page files
  • And many, many others

Instead of focusing on a specific technology, I propose we define the salient characteristics of cloud computing. For the purposes of this article series, I will define cloud computing as the technology having the characteristics of:

"Service-based data processing and storage capability which is flexible, extensible and virtual"

Some may add the following:

"and available via the Internet"

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