Security Considerations for Cloud Computing
By Evi Rachmilewitz, ClickSoftware Contributor
Israel’s IT industry has recently been going through a tumultuous period following cyber-attacks on major Israeli web portals. Some companies such as El – Al, Israel’s national airline, had to shut down their websites and lost business. In other cases, private information such as credit card numbers were exposed on the Internet by a Saudi hacker who calls himself OxOmar. Following these attacks a question is raised: Could Cloud Computing mitigate or even prevent these kinds of attacks?. The answer is a resounding YES.
In a 2009 annual survey of enterprise IT executives regarding concerns about adopting cloud computing, security remained the top concern and is probably still a top concern nowadays.
Yet when one examines actual security standards of certified public cloud providers it can be clearly seen that there are no fundamental boundaries to making a cloud-computing environment as secure as an in-house IT environment. By applying known security measures such as firewalls and packet filters, encrypted storage and virtual local area networks a cloud computing environment can mitigate security risks the same way an in-house data center can. It can be further said that public cloud providers can offer enhanced security policies that are unmatched by in-house data centers. It might sound surprising but there are logical explanations as follows:
Technology companies like Amazon and Google invested heavily in their cloud based data centers. In 2008 Google invested a stunning amount of $2.3 billion in its data center facilities. How many private or public companies can compete with this investment? For those who wonder how correlated are capital investments in data centers with their quality of service, availability and security the answer is VERY correlated.
Companies like Google are able to hire the best IT people, use economies of scale to buy best-of- breed hardware and servers for unmatched unit prices, physically secure the data center perimeter as if it was a strategic military base and duplicate this center to other regions in the world hence provide a multi-tenant architecture.
Goolge and Amazon run their core business on the exact same infrastructure that hosts cloud computing subscribers. In other words Google runs it search algorithm and gmail service over the same IT enviroument that Google cloud subscribers use. Same goes for Amazon that runs its retailing business over the exact same infrastructure that Amazon Web Services customers use.
What does it mean?
It means that as a public cloud subscriber you are assured that the company that hosts your business cannot afford a second of downtime in its service. Can you think of gmail being unavialable to million of subscribers? The meaning is devastating for Google hence it invests heavily on making its infrastructure safer and more available--probably more than most in-house data centers out there.
In the next Blog post, I will provide an in-depth example of security measures applied by Amazon’s cloud computing infrastrcutre to offer unmatched security policies to its subscribers.