Giving customers an element of control when it comes to storing their data in the cloud is the key to gaining their trust and, in turn, their patronage.
This is the belief of Trend Micro’s solutions architect, Udo Schneider, who spoke to Computer Weekly at this week’s SNW Europe conference in Frankfurt.
Despite the continued excitement around cloud computing and the growth multiple studies have shown when it comes to adoption, security is still the inhibitor for businesses looking at the technology.
“It might be driven by paranoia, but still all the different analysts and conversations with customers show security is still number one,” Udo Schneider said. “Most other problems, I don’t want to say they are solved, but they are addressed.
“Security is still one of the things where, even if there are solutions in the market today – which there are – if you add cloud computing to the equation, they have to be done in a different, efficient way.”
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Schneider spoke about the ways of protecting data “efficiently,” moving away from per server protection to hypervisor-based security, looking after every virtual machine without taking up resources from each one.
However, it is not the solutions that are the problem for companies. It is widely agreed that putting your data in the hands of companies with billion-dollar budgets for security alone will lead to a much safer environment than keeping it in your own datacentre.
But it is fear of giving up control of the data in the first place that remains a concern.
“The general problem with all cloud is if you have the infrastructure in-house, you still have that perception of security,” said Schneider.
“I wouldn’t call it real security, but customers feel that if something goes bad with the system, they can run down to the IT department and press the big red emergency security button.
“No one is actually doing that, but if you can move that perception to an external entity, you remove the perception of losing control.”
The “foundation” of changing this perception lies with the traditional technology of encryption, according to Schneider. He admits it is “nothing new” but believes if a company wants to keep that feeling of control around their data, the best move is to encrypt anything before you send it out from your own environment and keep that key close to your chest.
“The important part is that the key management is disjoined from the cloud provider,” he said. “This means that even if someone succeeds in stealing all your virtual drives, they will be useless to them.
“The fact the data is disjoined – which is really not technology but basic maths – is essential, but the interesting part in this whole discussion is that a customer can specify under which conditions they release a key to a workload.
"From the firewall or anti-virus status to the colour of the desktop background. The point is I, as the customer, can make decisions for my data.”
By handing this control or, as Schneider described it, the “perception of control,” the problem of where to store your data shrinks and the opportunities to take advantage of cloud providers around the world opens up.
He concluded: “It is about getting back control over my data despite the fact I have physically lost access to it in the cloud.”