Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cloud Computing: A Security Outlook

A 'cloud' in computing environment is the combination of Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) components. Well, most of us may confuse it with ASP (Application Service Provisioning) strategy, which is completely wrong. In simple terms, cloud is a virtualized, dynamically scalable, shared fabric and shared hardware solution to the users. It avoids capital expenditure (CapEx) on purchasing expensive hardware, software and other services by renting the usage from a third-party provider under SLA (Service-level Agreement). For more information, a cloud taxonomy is attached below.

When taking insights of security within Cloud Computing domain give a clear view of risks involved from consistency, interoperability, confidentiality, availability and integrity point of view, such as:

-Host visibility within cloud
-Trust Exploitation
-Data Privacy issues
-Immature logging process
-Data center tripwire
-Application security vulnerabilities
-Backdoored filesystem/virtualized operating systems/applications
-Virtualization security issues
-Content ownership/Intellectual property rights
-Cleartext data storage and transfer vs SSL/EV-SSL
-Use of weak encryption technology
-Centralized approach

Hence, before approaching any cloud computing vendor its better to investigate their policies and procedures regarding security of your company's data transactions. This can be analyzed on the following basis:

-Data segregation and use of strong encryption technology
-Data hosting location
-Recognized under industry standards and regulatory compliance.
-Disaster recovery and business continuity assurance
-Privileged access control
-Availability of resources and data
-Viability of data in case if the vendor goes out of business

A good set of cloud service can be differentiated under agility, sustainability, cost, multi-tenancy, reliability, scalability and security. Additionally, from security perspective, a 'focused penetration testing' may rest assure a vendor from any false sense of security and thus save the cost of any data loss or liability issues.

For more information on current security initiatives, visit:
[1]Cloud Security Alliance -
[2]ENISA Cloud Security Working Group -