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Security Questions To Ask Your Cloud Provider

NeoSpire's director of security, Sean Bruton, discusses the realities of cloud security and the key questions to ask when assessing a hosted or cloud service provider's claims.




Slideshow: Cloud Security Pros And Cons
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IT resources like data, server applications, databases, e-mail, and internal or external web applications require a task list of security measures. The size and composition of that list depends on how concerned you are, like whether you care if your customer list or next year's plans are snarfed up and sold to your competition.

And some of it depends on what industry you're in, and in turn, how much and many government and industry regulations your company is subject to... and the penalties if something happens or even if you simply fail an audit.

For example, if personal data like social security or credit card numbers have been potentially exposed -- an unencrypted tape, disk, or notebook gone astray; a Wi-Fi access point left vulnerable -- it can cost twenty dollars or more per user to alert them, plus regulators may decide to whack you in the wallet. This is true whether you're housing the data inside your own company, or outside with a third-party provider like a managed hosting service; a public, private or hybrid cloud; or a tape storage firm.

And even most companies that do house their primary data store internally will still need some offsite storage, whether for business continuity/disaster recovery, archival offsite backup, or compliance requirements. So these companies have to assess whether to do these backups themselves, or farm it out.

Sean Bruton, director of security for managed hosting provider NeoSpire, talked about some of the security issues, concerns, and to-do's that a company should consider before selecting any outside hosting company or service... or electing to keep things inside.

InformationWeek SMB: First, let's start by clarifying the question: what are the relative securities and insecurities of where your company's data lives -- in a data center in your company, or in an external company, like a managed service provider, or a public or private cloud vendor?

Bruton: The first thing you're interested in, in terms of security, is the company hosting your data. What controls are in place, as a company? For example, what is the internal control in terms of who has access, physical locations, what audits do they go through during the year, and the amount of visibility they're willing to offer customers into those controls and audits.

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