Cloud security a pressing issue for 2013

Cloud SecurityThe Georgia Tech Information Security Center published information this week about the most serious threats to computer safety expected during 2013.  The evolution of software and systems unfortunately brings with it a type of parallel evolution as hackers and cyber criminals seek to leverage new technologies in malicious ways. (Source:

Cloud computing security

The report identifies cloud security as a critical area.  Businesses have been finding out for several years now that cloud IT solutions allow them to quickly adjust their system provisioning, enabling them to add computing power as needed.  This has created a great incentive to move operations into the cloud since this power, unlike in the traditional paradigm, can be consumed – and paid for – on an occasional basis instead of as a fixed, up-front cost.

The very flexibility that makes cloud computing so attractive, however, will draw cyber criminals to it as well, according to the “Emerging Cyber Threats Report for 2013.”  Malware creators could use a cloud approach to flexibly create an army of virtual machines used to carry out malicious activities.  Microsoft Windows Azure team member Yousef Khalidi detailed this scenario in the report, writing: “If I’m a bad guy, and I have a zero-day exploit and the cloud provider is not up on their toes in terms of patching, the ability to exploit such a big capacity means I can do all sorts of things.”

Another troubling scenario brought forth in the report is the development of botnets that live in the cloud, creating a huge network of virtual resources that could be used in cyber attacks on SMB computer resources.

In many ways, the cloud is like a computer itself.  It creates incentives that are too powerful to disregard, but it comes with its own set of challenges to overcome.

One thing is quite clear: cloud computing security must be of paramount importance to SMBs seeking to move operations in the cloud or expand their current use of cloud environments.  It is imperative for organizations to work with a responsible cloud service provider that takes data security seriously.

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