Today's cloud winners: the cybercriminals

For everyone else, it's decades of legal wrangling

Legal complexities make it difficult to use public cloud computing, according to Raimund Genes, Trend Micro's chief technology officer. Unless you're a criminal, that is.

"Public cloud for me is not really a security challenge. It is a change in the way we operate with data. It doesn't decrease security. It increases complexity, and that's a problem," he told the company's Canberra Cloud Security Conference yesterday.

"The cloud, from a legal point of view, will keep our internal lawyers and everybody else busy for the next fifty, one hundred years," he said.

Trend Micro experienced that complexity first-hand when the company began building data centres to deliver security services from the cloud in 2005. The supposedly-uniform European Data Protection Directive has been implemented with supporting laws just that little bit different in every member nation.

"We went to Germany, because we thought Germany's really strict on data protection and everything, so all Europeans should he happy with it," Genes said. "I was wrong."

And that was before they started dealing with individual corporate security policies.

Industrial giant Bosch, for example, wouldn't allow the reputation analysis of websites visited by their employees to be done by Trend Micro's public server, fearing an attacker could map out their research activities.

"When you think about cloud computing, especially public cloud computing, the guys who are making most of the money with public cloud computing are cybercriminals. This is why I would call the public cloud a 'dark cloud'," Genes said.

The cloud's benefits for criminals are clear: they can move servers around to avoid prosecution. By the time Australian law enforcement agencies have become aware of a command and control (C&C) server operating in Australia, for example, and the Attorney-General's Department contacts the internet service provider to get it shut down, the server will have already moved offshore.

"Have fun," Genes said. "The bad buys don't care about laws, about rules and regulations." And they can steal computing resources by creating botnets rather than paying for their own infrastructure.

"All the infected computers worldwide have more processing power than any public cloud you've ever seen, no matter if it's Amazon or whatever. And you could be sure that the bad guys are also using Amazon and the others," Genes said.

Genes' comments echo recent statements by Australian Crime Commission chief John Lawler, who warned that law enforcement will always lag behind online criminals because they have to follow the rules, and Deloitte enterprise risk management analyst Dean Kingsley, who noted that cloud security and risk standards are only at the very beginning of their journey though Gartner's Hype Cycle.

It'll be two to five years before organisations realise the benefits of the public cloud," Kingsley told the ISACA Summit last month.

Contact Stilgherrian at or follow him on Twitter at @stilgherrian

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Tags cloud computingtrend microEuropean Data Protection DirectiveRaimund Genes

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