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Experts Question Security Payoff Of Sending Apps To The Cloud
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User Rank: Strategist
3/27/2014 | 10:36:53 AM
Do cloud services improve security -- or make it worse?
There has been a lot of debate on both sides, but emerging vendors say there's an opportunity to make the cloud a strength instead of a weakness. Do you think over the long term, cloud offerings will be more secure or less secure than today's premises-based networks?
Ed Moyle
Ed Moyle,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 10:35:40 AM
Re: Do cloud services improve security -- or make it worse?
Interesting question.  On the one hand, you have the promise that cloud vendors can use economies of scale to add more operational security capability.  On the other, you have the practical realities of how organizations use cloud (for example scenarios where cloud transition isn't as well planned as it could be.) 

AlertLogic has some data (http://www.alertlogic.com/resources/cloud-security-report/) suggesting that cloud is safer compared to traditional enterprise datacenter environments on the whole. Specifically, that all threat categories they measure excepting web application attackes are less likely to occur in cloud and that the overall number of incidents are reduced.  Could this be biased?  Maybe.  

It's interesting data about an interesting question, but I think it leaves out some important contextual factors.  As with anything, I think the question is about what you're comparing: meaning, not all cloud environments (whether public or private) are created equal and neither are all "traditional" apps/platforms/infrastructure.   

It's like asking whether an open source operating system is "more secure" than a closed source one: it depends on context.  For example, consider if the question is: "is OpenBSD more secure than Windows"?  You might think you already know the answer to this, but consider two scenarios: scenario one is a current vanilla install of OpenBSD and an unpatched legacy (and long end-of-life) Windows NT 4.0 install.  Which is "more secure"?  Scenario two is a patched, hardened Windows 7 install compared to an OpenBSD server that announces the root password for its login banner.  Again, pretty clear but in the opposite direction. Point is, context matters.  

To actually do apples to apples, you need to add constraints.  For example, you might say: given a system patched to current at XYZ date, with the following software running, administrative/root users configured per the following constraints, using a hardening methodology of ____, in an envrionment that consists of XYZ other systems, user behavior of ABC, etc., etc.  By the time you're done getting to the level of specificity requried to set context, you have a comparison scenario that's almost never likely to occur in nature.  

Sorry... rambling on about this for too long already.  Interested to see what people think about this.  
Randy Naramore
Randy Naramore,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 11:32:28 AM
Re: Do cloud services improve security -- or make it worse?
The truth of the matter is cloud services has not been around long enough to determine if it is a strength or a weakness. The same can be said for newly released medicines, until enough time has passed and enough testing has been performed we simply do not know how the cloud will be affecting us in the years to come. I personally feel it will be a good thing but it does present some challenges such as security and others that remain to be seen.
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/31/2014 | 2:51:12 PM
Re: Do cloud services improve security -- or make it worse?
Agree, Randy that there is still a lot TBD about cloud security. But it's hard for me to imagine that the technology will be going away any time soon..  So better security is a must!

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