Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care

Listen: as cloud computing consultants, we drink the cloud computing koolaid. We’ve implemented cloud-based software for businesses of all sizes, across just about every industry. We’ve seen it revolutionize how businesses work.

We’ve also seen security become a very real and increasingly serious concern.

Don’t worry, it’s safe!

When we first began showing cloud-based software to clients, the idea of storing your data remotely was a new concept. Like clockwork, clients were all concerned about security. Is my data safe? What happens if the software company folds? Can we be hacked?

cloud securityLike good cloud computing consultants everywhere, we’d listen, smile, shake our heads, and explain why clients needn’t worry, how storing your data on 3rd party servers was safer than storing it locally, how Google had armed guards.

And that was all true. In many ways, top-of-class cloud-based software tools do deliver top-notch security.

But in other ways, those early clients had prescient concerns. The shift to cloud computing has – in subtle and not-so-subtle ways – followed a fundamental shift in data and how we think of property writ large.

Lets rewind….

Software-as-a-pain-in-the-ass (SAPAS)

Before Salesforce, before Google, there were local servers and hard drives. If businesses used software (and that’s a big “if”), they had it installed locally, on-site, on their own computers or servers. Barbaric, I know.

This had major disadvantages: accessing your programs if you weren’t at the office was a pain. Syncing data between workstations was a nightmare. Collaborating in real time without overwriting was impossible.

Then there were the bills. Typically, companies paid third-party consultants like us huge retainers to maintain servers, push updates, and install patches. The value-add of those consultants was technical – they operated as IT janitors, doing the dirty work that no one else wanted or knew how to. Inexplicably, this is still a viable business model.

But for many businesses, cloud computing changed all that.

Enter the cloud

With cloud computing, businesses didn’t have to worry about maintaining anything. Sign up for an account and you’re done: the vendor does all the dirty work, no middle-man necessary. Just you, your data, and your sweet, innocent software.

Other advantages followed. Because vendors no longer relied on resellers for sales, the market was flooded with new software options – and increased competition meant better, cheaper products. And because the cloud affords technical advantages (such as integrations), the feature-set deepened. What could possibly go wrong?

The fight for your data

As many, many observers predicted, data privacy and security is today a major concern for businesses. This fact is highlighted by recent revelations about the NSA’s writing backdoors into consumer software, and Target losing credit card data on tens of millions of its customers.

Used to be, we didn’t care much about that stuff. It won’t happen to you.

business hackerBut the reality is, something major has happened. Most businesses don’t have technical control of at least some – if not all – of their data anymore. Their banking data, their client data, their sales data, their documents and records – for millions of businesses, that stuff is stored on anonymous data servers and leased back.

Now, I’m not saying that’s an inherently bad thing. And it’s still true, for most businesses, that their data is safer (in some ways) now than it was when it was recorded on some dusty Exchange server in the closet.

But it’s also true that vendors, businesses, and consultants all need to do a better job of being honest about the state of software security. Too many vendors say “we use bank-grade encryption” and leave it at that. Too many clients aren’t asking the right questions. And too many consultants just don’t care.

A better way

By definition, cloud computing means a loss of some control. A relinquishing of technical reigns in return for better products. That’s just a fact.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t demand more.

Vendors should have transparent security outlines, where it’s 100% clear where your data is, what they’re doing with it, how it’s protected, and what they plan to do when something goes wrong.

Businesses should demand more. When vendors or consultants don’t address security, they should force the issue – and don’t accept anyone rolling their eyes.

Consultants should care more. They should know about SSL vs TSL; the difference between hashing and encryption; the strengths and limitations of multi-factor authentication.

This stuff is stressful to think about, but it’s super important. We’ve never had a client or a vendor suffer a data breach, but we also know it’s a lottery – and it’s up to us (and you) to mitigate risks.

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy server software, which is widely used in the telecommunication industry or the content delivery networks or e-commerce," explained Jonathan Ahn, COO of WineSOFT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.