Cloudy Days Ahead

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 @ 04:03 PM gHale


It is time to get a clear picture of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is the use of remote computers accessed via the Internet to store, manage, and process data. The concept allows users to use their data from anywhere with Internet access rather than relying on connecting to local computers or servers.

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Web-based email, media streaming systems, online data storage and backup, content delivery networks for websites and blogs and many other functions are now available as cloud computing applications and services. But what about the security?

Cloud computing, however, is still in its infancy and is evolving rapidly as new services come and go and offer individual users and companies new ways to work with their data and networks. As cloud computing moves forward there is the ubiquitous issue of privacy and security to consider and how they are in some quarters holding back more widespread adoption.

Joseph Idziorek and Mark Tannian of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at Iowa State University in Ames, have considered six essential aspects of security, as defined by veteran information security researcher Donn Parker, in the context of cloud computing. These are:
• Confidentiality (data kept secret)
• Integrity (data unaltered without permission)
• Availability (data accessible to those authorized to use it)
• Utility (data processed by those authorized to access it)
• Authenticity (validation that data is genuine)
• Possession (authorized users have full control over their data)

The researchers suggest in theory cloud computing users must take into account all six security elements when choosing to use such services, but in practice users decide on the priority of each depending on their personal needs.

It is perhaps deficits, real or perceived, in one or more of these six areas that dissuades some from adopting cloud computing whereas the early adopters recognize that such systems are ever-changing and may never be perfect.

As with much in life it is a case of weighing up the pros and cons and reaching a compromise to make the most of the tools available or in the opposite sense to choose not to use those tools at all and to adhere to the standard computing paradigm.



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