Category Archives: Security

Press Release: Cloud Security Survey Reveals Lack Of Business Policies Governing Rogue Cloud Usage

Cloud Security Survey Reveals Lack of Business Policies Governing Rogue Cloud Usage Even as Data Protection Remains Highest Concern with the Cloud

Forty Percent of Companies Deny Cloud Usage Despite Employee and Departmental Use of Web-Based Applications and Mobile Devices Outside of IT Control

Seattle, Wash. – November 6, 2012 – New research tracking trends and issues in cloud security revealed a growing gap between actual business cloud practices and related IT policies. The survey found that while nearly 20 percent of businesses have no clear security policies or standards around employee or departmental use of “cloud,” the majority do allow employees to use cloud services and access corporate data from cloud applications or connected devices. This policy versus utilization gap is consistent for both the 61 percent of respondents who said their company is using the cloud, as well as the remainder who reported not officially leveraging cloud services to-date.

The October 2012 research, sponsored by cloud backup provider Symform, surveyed nearly 500 companies across a wide range of industries and organizational size, with 18 percent representing enterprises, 34 percent from small to medium organizations, and 48 percent representing IT service providers or small businesses. The survey queried respondents about current cloud utilization, cloud security concerns and benefits, security policies and employee use of cloud services, applications and devices.

For many businesses, data growth is outpacing cloud adoption. Coupled with BYOD and the consumerization of IT, the survey reveals that many businesses are slow to acknowledge cloud adoption within their organization and, as a result, determine the proper IT security and policies to govern this cloud usage. In fact, of the 39 percent who said they are not using cloud, 65 percent claim to allow employees or teams to use cloud services and 35 percent allow employees to put company data in cloud applications.

This research validates how cloud applications and services are being purchased and managed increasingly by non-IT departments, and illustrates the need for IT to re-claim control from a policy and governance standpoint while still enabling the business to benefit from the cloud’s agility and cost-effectiveness,” said Margaret Dawson, vice president of product management at Symform. “I always advise IT leaders to be the centralized source of all IT policy, vendor criteria, compliance management and the definition of “trust” for their organizations. Cloud usage is inevitable but loss of control is not.

Despite the gap between cloud utilization and corresponding security policies, the Symform survey revealed that secure cloud backup is gaining credibility as a safe place to store or use data, with 50 percent of respondents believing even sensitive data can be secured in the cloud. However, credit card information was a huge exception, with 70 percent saying they would not put credit card data in the cloud. This aligns with the belief that the highest perceived benefit of the cloud is data protection. For those using the cloud, nearly 50 percent stated secure cloud storage services allow them to spend less time managing data protection and on IT security overall. For those not in the cloud, over 50 percent believe that better data protection would be the top benefit gained by moving services to the cloud.

The number one stated concern and key criteria for IT managers with the cloud was Access Controls. Other top security criteria when evaluating cloud services were auditing and tracking, securing data both in motion and at rest, vulnerability management and maintaining strong security service level agreements (SLAs). To alleviate their fears, companies of all sizes are turning to large technology vendors to gain advice and learn best practices on cloud security. While leading analyst and industry organizations such as Gartner, the Cloud Security Alliance and Black Hat scored well among respondents, the most trusted sources were Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, IBM and other IT vendors. In fact, Microsoft and Amazon received an equal 46 percent vote as the  top trusted source(s) on cloud security.

While not necessarily related to cloud security, the research did substantiate that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is the slowest cloud platform to penetrate organizations, lagging well behind Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Only 39 percent of those using cloud reported leveraging PaaS, while 48 percent and 79 percent respectively said they were currently using IaaS and SaaS. PaaS again was the laggard when respondents were asked which cloud model they were least likely to adopt, with 48 percent of those already in the cloud and 70 percent of those not yet using cloud claiming they would not leverage a PaaS solution within the next 12 months.

For more information on the cloud security survey results, as well as other primary research sponsored by Symform, go to http://www.symform.com/join-the-revolution/resources/market-research/.

About Symform

The Symform Cloud Storage Network is a better way to store and backup all of your data. As the world’s first distributed and crowdsourced cloud based backup solution, Symform enables users to pay with bytes instead of bucks. Every business on the network contributes excess local drive space to the grid in exchange for secure, fast and reliable cloud data backup. Before data leaves the source device, it is encrypted and shredded, redundancy added, and then geo-distributed across the global network. With its proprietary and patented technology, Symform is building the world’s largest virtual datacenter using existing Internet infrastructure. Go to www.symform.com or email info@symform.com for more information.

Symform, Symform Global Cloud Storage Network, the Resilient Storage Architecture, and RAID-96 are trademarks of Symform, Inc. References to other companies and their products acknowledge the trademarks owned by their respective companies and are for reference purposes only.

Source: Symform

Presenting The Cloud A Subcategory To Connect With Clients

Presenting The Cloud A Subcategory To Connect With Clients

Last week I heard a newscaster announce that the, “cloud” overhanging the economy revolves around what our legislators are going to do about the fiscal cliff. This terminology has nothing to do with the topic of cloud computing but everything to do with our audience’s mental reflexes when it comes to associating common, “cloud” usage classifications with cloud computing.

Everyone understands that cloud computing is not the visible collection of water or ice particles in the air http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cloud?s=t but when their cognitive processes engages the word cloud the associations made are much like the newscasters usage. This creates insecurity in an industry where security is the paramount concern. Other words that come up in the dictionary.com reference above include smoke, dust, dim, obscure, darkens, gloom, trouble, and suspicion. Even if car manufactures produced a car that could fly it could never be named, “the Cloud”. It isn’t until definition number eight that cloud computing is mentioned on the dictionary.com site and many dictionaries don’t even include a computing reference. This hurdle will be overcome by presenting the cloud as a subcategory.

Categories are More Important Than Definitions

It’s inconvenient for the human brain to adjust to a different definition of a word that already exists in our categorical rendering of it. This is explained by Yamauchi & Markman’s, (2000) finding that categories serve as organizers of knowledge. Since our knowledge is organized according to these categorical hierarchies, defining cloud computing is a little like my wife hiding treats in the vegetable drawer in our refrigerator. The kids know the treats are there but they can’t find it. Similarly, our brains recognize the context of cloud computing but are not grasping the full meaning without a pre-existing bias. When cloud computing filters into our mind set alongside idioms like, absent-mindedness and, lost in reverie is it any wonder that security concerns are raised?

Creating a New Category?

Cognitive science again and again points out that our learning is tied up in grouping similar concepts together. Applying this concept practically means that cloud computing is faced with the task of going beyond redefining a term, which could take a long time, and creating a category that differentiates itself from common current connotations.

When I moved from the northern part of the US to the south I was immediately branded as a northerner when I said, “pop” in reference to a soft drink. In the south, “coke” is a regionalism for all soft drinks. This is quite a victory for Coke and its marketing team who created a new category based on their brand name.

By tearing a page out of Coke’s playbook perhaps one of us can figure out how to make the cloud synonymous with safety just like a mouse is no longer limited to something scurrying across the floor.

By Don Cleveland

References: Yamauchi, T., & Markman, A. B. (2000). Inference using categories. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, And Cognition, 26(3), 776-795. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.26.3.776

Can Cloud Security Be Doubted When Even ThePirateBay Is Sailing There Now? – The Simple Answer (Part 1)

Can Cloud Security Be Doubted When Even ThePirateBay Is Sailing There Now? – The Simple Answer (Part 1)

Can Cloud Security Be Doubted When Even ThePirateBay Is Sailing There Now? – The Simple Answer

Perhaps the strongest reason deterring people from moving their virtual assets to the cloud is the feeling that their data may not be secure there. The IT world is already building myths about security hackers that could and still can get at any data they want. And, as far as the beginnings of the internet are concerned, it was certainly true that a specialist could get at any data he or she wanted. But the times are changing and every lesson in security systems is now quickly shared throughout the system so it is getting increasingly difficult to for anyone to get at secured data.

And what better proof of that concept than the fact that The Pirate Bay is moving its servers to the cloud. In fact they have already moved to the clouds because they have already acquired the services of several data centers in two different countries. Now, you may or may not support the efforts of the BitTorrent use, but what is undeniably true is that basically the entire entertainment industry has a vested interest in taking them down. And that means that virtually limitless economic resources and political lobbying are being thrown against them.

So what is it about the cloud that has convinced them to move there and trust other servers instead of their own? Well, one of the most important things about server security is to keep the actual physical location of the server a secret. It is not only a matter of keeping secure the actual hard drives from being seized but virtual attackers also need to know in what country and, preferably, in what exact location a data server is before they can attempt to hack it. Even more important in this situation is the fact that The Pirate Bay is using the servers of several companies so even if one of them should fall prey to an attack the others would take up the slack with no user disturbance whatsoever.

Of course not many of us can afford to use the services of two server storage systems let alone several of them but the idea of having a backup in a secure location is certainly worth considering. And since most of us do not need to fear that our data will be automatically deleted by the police it is worth to take into account the costs involved in buying an extra hard drive and linking it in a RAID configuration that would allow automatic backups.

And there is a second reason why The Pirate Bay moved to the cloud and it has to do with the fact that, last month, the entire torrent community got a big scare when the site was down for over two days. The downtime had to do with internal problems and not with any federal action but it did prove just how dependent they were on their hardware. So by moving to several servers they have spread that vulnerability to the point where it is almost negligible. And since every one of us has at least on story where we’ve lost all of our important data due to faulty hardware it makes sense to back up on systems that nothing short of a global disaster could terminate.

Stay Tuned For Part 2 (The Complex Answer)

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

Cloud Security: A Round Up Of Prominent Highlights Across The Planet

Cloud Security: A Round Up Of Prominent Highlights Across The Planet

Though cloud security is a mandate that is heartfelt across the world, its approach in continents is as diverse as the cultures therein. Still, one can trace some parallel lines in what each of the global demarcations are offering that can eventually lead to a global consensus. As Africa emphasizes on user-supplier mutual playoff to prevent data compromise, the Asian bloc is heading the way with a range of conferences to talk on all matters safety. The Europeans are concentrating on laws that increase virtual data safety through encryption just when the Americans are concentrating on envisioning how to deal with a massive cyber criminal act, while the Australians concentrate on safer country-driven mechanisms.

The most disturbing issue in cloud computing is in focus again. There are conferences left, center and right, all hinging on security. There are even Asian circuits that are attracting the public backing of some major Internet and electronics multinationals.

In the scheme of things therefore, it would only be right to set the drum rolling for the global security highlights. What better approach would serve than that of a continental approach?

Africa

Though lagging behind in the currently estimated revenue of cloud computing (150 billion US Dollars), Africa is emerging as one of the fastest opportunity hubs. Tech firms are taking the virtual space inexorably. App developers and the networks are taking the fight against phishing and cyber compromises by using a manual-cum-automatic approach. In a manual sense, sites, as the best example of Software as a service, are offering their visitors tips on how to encrypt their documents through passwords. They are also explaining how they are deploying their own encryption by using denial certificates and proxies to overcome data phishing.

Asia

This ranks as the land of opportunity, with some analysts banking on the huge potential of computer-literate populations to turn the tide of cloud computing from Western to Eastern domination. There is not a day that one types in a keyword with cloud on it without the many Asian conferences, each having keynote speakers, rearing its head. There are many issues to pick from these conventions but it is hard to bypass the security mandate. There are now organizations that cumulatively bring together qualified professionals into Internet hubs like Singapore. They exchange notes on the current status of security, illuminate on how app development can offer better safety, and seek ways on integrating Western and oriental safety measures in data safety.

Australia

The major focus of the Australian cloud computing scene is security. However, the tack of this land is that of an isolationist approach where the private cloud and infrastructural networks in the ‘Land Down Under’ are getting popular. Many cloud enthusiasts are deciding that their data is better off in onshore rather than offshore settings. They are also concentrating on legality concerns through their existing electronic laws. There are also hints that profile identification of users will also become a key factor in the security policies in coming times.

Europe

This is the heartland of decisions that work by the book of rules rather than by hear say. There are provisions now, in the Euro zone, for curbing third-party accessibility of data in the cloud in order to instill more profile encryptions. This liberalization of a person’s right to exist freely on the web will be very influential on how businesses implement it. For example, it is now legally binding for sites to give instantaneous reports on a cyber compromising of a document, hacking or such acts or else face penalties. The other side of the Atlantic is not happy with these laws, dynamic as they are, since American secret agencies may every now and then want to investigate a hacker whose details are in a European datacenter. However, this clash of wills may meet with amicable solutions.

The Americas

The United States represents the overall interest of security across the globe, to a great measure, since most of the innovations that lead to enhanced safety emanate from here. The US is now concentrating on staging mock shows that can anticipate a major attack on the Internet that can affect a substantial number of users. At the same time, they are holding conferences, like their Asian counterparts, to help combat overwhelming data safety concerns.

There are unified efforts, albeit a little bit different depending on settings across the globe to address security concerns. It’s only hopeful that they will lead to a better cloud model.

By John Omwamba

Is The Xbox Music Project Dead On Arrival?

Is The Xbox Music Project Dead On Arrival?

Microsoft has recently come up with a service that allows you to handle all your music collection with one single app across as many platforms as you have that are working under the Microsoft license. The program, called Xbox Music, is a bundle of two services, the Xbox Music Pass and the Xbox Music Store. The latter is pretty self-explanatory and the only relevant thing to add about it is that it allows you to pay with money and not Microsoft points. The Xbox Music pass has both a free version and a paid subscription of $10. The free version will allow you to stream about 18 million songs if you leave in the US and can go as high as 30 million songs in the global market.

Of course the free version is not permanent and will most likely last for only the first 6 months of use, after which you will have to move up to the paid version. However many users will probably opt to go pro from the first month simply because the free version only works on PCs and Tablets using Windows 8 and you need to upgrade in order to be able to stream music over your smartphone or Xbox.

However Xbox Music was designed to be the exclusive service lunched with Windows 8 and that means there is no cross platform support for it. In face you won’t be able to use the service on any system running Windows 7 or even 7.5. So Microsoft is really playing for the end game with this lunch is counting on really making money on the system a few years from now when Microsoft 8 will have been adopted by most PC users that are now using Windows 7.

The problem is that, the way things look today, Windows will not own that much of the mobile market even in 10 years from now. So the system may be great and, as is the case with almost every Windows product, as long as you accept its limitation, it does work great. And even in this situation there is a problem with syncing hard drive based songs to the phone and it will take you a bit of effort in the beginning to learn how to navigate the program. The biggest problem, though, is the fact that most people today like to stream music over their phone more often than they use their PCs or tablet PCs.

So the Xbox Music may be the perfect choice for listening to music under Windows 8 but the only question will be just how many systems will you be using working on this particular platform. For PC users, yes, it is probably the future, but for smartphone users, unless Microsoft adds in a cross platform module, they are probably going to lose a lot of their customers to other services. And obviously Zune users are going to migrate naturally to the Xbox Music but except for them there isn’t really anything about the software that will get users to abandon their favourite music streaming software in favour of the new Microsoft app.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

Cloud Services On The East Coast Clog In The Wake of Sandy

Cloud Services On The East Coast Clog In The Wake of Sandy

In an age where the Internet infrastructure depends on the engineered redundancy of underwater cables, it is hardly possible that the effect of super storms like Sandy can go unnoticed. Hosting and colocution services went off tune after data facilities and websites on the East Coast went down in the wake of the super storm. Since the Internet is a real industry in the US, it is easy to imagine the level to which cloud providers have reached the blink trying to restore unstable networks.

Like a herald, Super Storm Sandy came with forewarnings but New Yorkers and New Jersey residents, including the captain of the lost ship Bounty of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty film, took no heed. They had not expected things to go haywire. It also brought down the cloud from the Internet skies as some service providers shut down. This came of the power outages, in the aftermath of the fire that the surging waters caused in the streets of Manhattan.

The blood stream of the global Internet is AC-2, the cables that traverse the Atlantic Ocean and bridge the data and communication divide between Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. Sandy has affected them, to varying degrees, but the main blunt is on the East Coast sites.

Here is a roundup of the effects Sandy has visited upon particular cloud data facilities:

  • Telx, a provider in the Big Apple and the neighboring states said a great number of its data facilities had to rely on diesel power.
  • Internap and Peer 1, all of which have data facilities in the more sunken part of NYC were also in the eye of the storm.
  • Equinix, a data center on the big Apple, was forced to bank on its two-day strong diesel backup to operate after the blackout.
  • Navisite, on the other hand, in the sea-level side of Manhattan Island relied on its 3-day long generator backup with surplus at hand.
  • Nirvanix foreclosed the approach of Super Storm Sandy by advising its clients to churn out their data, without charge from its New Jersey headquarters, October 29.

Even when the immediate point of concern has been power failure, the cloud community is still apprehensive of the ghost of cable disruption underneath the surface of the ocean. Luckily enough, analysts are saying that redundancy, or double distribution parameters of the cables, might beat permanent Internet collapse to the chase.

While data facilities were looking up to the good old fuel guzzlers to generate power for them, websites were all night by candlelight. Some of those that doused their light for a day or two after the storm visited their premises include:

*Huffington Post, one of the most popular news blogs in the United States, crashed severally. According to the Independent UK, the site reinstated its services unsuccessfully several times throughout the unfortunate moments.

*October 31 through November 1, the flickering ghost of the Gawker site would also resurface through the Internet airwaves, severally.

*Gizmodo site went down for several hours.

If buzz from the Internet is anything to go by, certain servers for sites like Huffington Post went under a surge of water up to their waist. They lost electricity when more than 5ft of deluge visited their cellars unexpectedly.

Climatologists are arguing that the surge of the unnatural storm Sandy, so late in the season, must be due to industries, and inversely climate change. Webmasters of weather sites have noted how the ocean is 1 degree hotter than it was forty years ago. This relates directly to the fact that storms gain momentum from heat waves on the water surface. Cloud sites have been doing all they can to reduce the effects of climate change. Their methods include looking for green methods of cooling devices, such as solar. They are also using biofuel, which is not as adverse as electricity, to reduce the carbon footprint on the globe.

By John Omwamba

Cloud Sites In The Eye Of Super Storm Sandy Hanging By A Moment

Cloud Sites in the eye of Super Storm Sandy Hanging by a Moment

Super storm Sandy is the old man of the sea wrecking havoc everywhere, from data centers to homes. However, it seems like the American spirit is not yet doused by the news as disaster recovery is underway. According to Fox News, a woman told the New York governor that she had lost all her effects and even then, those around were reiterating to return and start from scratch. Echoing these views were site managers and colocation service providers, who as it is now, are hanging by a moment trying to generate power, in-house, after electricity went off the grid.

Some of the disaster recovery efforts center entirely on the sites that had no cloud backup for their operations. The biggest search engine in the world, Google, is now offering rations in the sector for all those who want to use its cloud service without any charges for provisioning, as for now. Some sites like Huffington Post had their basements full to the neck, in 5ft of deluge that visited their NYC facilities yesterday.

The real picture of the cloud as a remote backup place for files and documents is getting clearer now in the wake of Sandy.

According to a marketing agent with a software company, it were time entrepreneurs came to know that data is not in the machines that are easy to go away with the water, but the backup that is in store faraway in some cloud.

Even as disaster recovery comes into the context, there have been evacuation efforts in datacenters that foresaw the effect. Here are some of the cloud providers who sent alarms to their clients before the storm:

October 29: The Sandy Map from Google came out providing data providers and sites with a way to know the progress and routes of the hurricane using visual accounts, news and mapping details.

October 30: Just one day before Super Storm Sandy reached its full strength, Nirvanix asked its clients to remove their information racks from its New Jersey facility that was in the path of the storm.

October 30: SiSense, an Israeli start-up unveiled its new analytical infrastructure product that can evaluate the best place to keep data machines, far away from weather catastrophes. Though it is not a guarantee that accidents like fire won’t happen, such a product can help to tell exactly what may happen in an area depending on meteorological intelligence.

Even as more than 55 people-the actual figure varies-lost their lives to the storm in the United States, recovery efforts are still going on. Some of these are quite helpful to cloud computing providers including that by Gartner, the tech research firm. The site is providing a range of news that can help people analyze how to handle the aftermath of Sandy. Writers are tackling issues, ranging from business hazards to lack of electric current.

It is easy to say that the apocalyptic effects of Hurricane Sandy, both upon landfall early Tuesday and before that on the major Internet undersea cables have taught a lesson to data providers. They will no longer stand and stare while waters surge into their very basements, unstoppably, like a pistol shot.

By John Omwamba

CloudTweaks Update 7:58am EST – Storm Sandy

Update 7:58am EST – Storm Sandy

Due to the recent Storm Sandy that has affected many in North America. CloudTweaks has decided to postpone any new articles over the next couple of days. This is simply out of respect to those who are suffering through this unfortunate situation.

In the meantime,  our servers have not been impacted by the storm, so please feel free to continue using our site for your cloud research needs.

Best,

– CloudTweaks Team

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