Hardware Security and the Cloud

Cloud Computing Can Graduate to the Next Level With Hardware Security

A study by Northeastern University estimated that in 2013 2.5 exabytes (25 billion gigabytes) of data were created everyday. One of the biggest challenges facing companies is choosing and maintaining a database to house this massive amount of data. The decision has only become more difficult with the advent of cloud computing in the mid 2000’s. Players such as Amazon, Google, and Oracle are all vying for a piece of the metaphorical cloud pie. Shifting to a cloud computing model provides a host of benefits for business including decreased infrastructure costs, greater performance, and provisions for redundancy. Cloud providers are able to take advantage economies of scale to provide a higher level of service than clients would be able to provide with in-house servers. 

This seems great. Lower costs for the customer and better performance to boot. There is a catch, there is always a catch.

With any service you get what you pay for. Among the drawbacks of cloud computing are reduced customizability and security concerns. As Bruce Schneier put it, cloud computing is like a restaurant menu with limited choices and custom solutions are like a private chef. The reduced price of the restaurant comes at the customizability of the fare. Security is also a large concern for cloud-based solution. Essentially, you are giving the keys to all of your data to a third party and trusting them to keep it safe. A big ask.

 

Data is almost always encrypted while at rest on a cloud server but that falls short of true security. To provide a comprehensive solution data must be protected while it is stored in memory. This is a task that can only be accomplished in hardware. Integrating a hardware security solution with cloud computing eliminates many of the security shortcomings of a standalone cloud solution.

 

Once third party cloud servers are secured in silicone they will also become more attractive to business such as financial institutions and hospitals that have been forced to keep their servers in-house due to stringent security demands. To reap the full benefits of any technology its security has to match its level of innovation. In the next few years we will see more and more that companies will turn to hardware to secure their SaaS products. The future is never certain but we must take advantage of the best technology available to secure our integrated, high-tech society. 

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