How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cloud-Based Products

At this point I think it’s safe to say everything is cloud-based. From cloud cars to Everything as a Service, the cloud has invaded more than just our email addresses. As a result, more and more organizations are moving all of their data into the cloud, including their more sensitive data.

cloud based SaaS security news

Recent Cloud Growth

According to a recent study from Ponemon Institute and Thales e-Security, a third of businesses admitted their data is completely unprotected in cloud-based systems. This development should be alarming to anyone paying attention to security news. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA’s massive surveillance program over a year ago, exposing the stark truth that the United States government is snooping on its citizens for controversial reasons. Snowden’s massive information dump to news organizations continues to leak out and scare the hell out of people every few weeks.

Recently the internet’s had the epidemic scare of Heartbleed, a massive bug in the basic encryption safeguarding bank and personal websites. The Heartbleed bug has been patched, but most of the old, compromised keys went right back into use, according to the latest security news.

So with keys compromised and the United States government potentially spying on everything we do, why would we store our private information on a cloud-based platform? The answer is quite simple, if you’re willing to do the work.

Basic Security: There are many arguments from crypto alarmists that since no one truly knows where their information is being stored, cloud-based platforms are completely unsafe. In truth, the cloud is no more or less safe than the average personal computer hooked up to the internet. Yes, cloud systems can be hacked. So can unprotected personal servers. In my opinion, SaaS based programs are no more dangerous or vulnerable than legacy software systems.

Encryption: In the wake of Edward Snowden, encryption has become a hot-button issue. From NSA-proof phones to SaaS encryption platforms like Vaultive, everyone wants to lock up their information. That’s a good thing. Even basic, free encryption offers vastly more security than an unprotected system. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around, though. While Google Apps are offering Zix encryption, that doesn’t mean every cloud-based email is protected. Do your homework.

Personal Vigilance: Perhaps the most important form of security. Whether cloud-based or not, most people use the same simple passwords and do not change them. Most people leave their personal devices laying around unlocked. Keeping an eye on your credit score and using tough passwords goes a long way, even in our cloudy, stormy present.

Have you migrated your information to a cloud base platform, or are you still too leery? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Adopting the Cloud in 2014

Two years ago, the cloud was something tech companies were suggesting we get excited about. But for the average user, the power of cloud technology was amorphous. Now we’re hearing all about cloud apps and the “Internet of Things.” Everyone knows they should adopt the cloud—it’s faster, cheaper and safer for your data. The real question is, why aren’t more companies adopting?

Concerns of the Past

This was a typical business response to cloud adoption in 2013. In the undisclosed future, a business (might) be interested in adopting a cloud platform. Maybe. I’m not poking fun at these business leaders; they had reasons to be worried. Public clouds have been criticized for their security gaps and their vulnerability to everyone from hackers to the NSA. On top of that, the cloud is just… new. So you have a new platform that is under scrutiny and possibly vulnerable to attack.

So, why would your organization migrate to the cloud in 2014? Because the cloud continues to become more versatile, reliable and secure. Let’s look at some improvements that are going to be big in the coming year:

SaaS. Software as a Service is going to grow by 14.7% this year, but what exactly does that mean? Put simply, SaaS is any application that can be accessed via the cloud, usually through a web browser. A great example would be Office 365. Previously, this program had to be put on every organization’s computer and required a large IT budget to get the job done. Now, companies can access what they want when they want it via the cloud. SaaS is also cheaper than typical enterprise software—companies are renting what they need instead of buying large software packages they might not fully employ.

The Hybrid Cloud. If everyone has access to your cloud, how safe is your information? Many organizations have opted for the hybrid cloud to ensure data availability while still protecting their sensitive materials. In brief, the hybrid cloud is a combination of a company’s own private cloud platform and the public cloud that all employees can access. This mix of openness and security allows for a greater employee adoption while still protecting organizational data. For that reason, Gartner predicts half of all large organizations will have a hybrid cloud by 2017.

Encryption. If 2013 was the age of NSA revelations, 2014 may very well be the Age of Encryption. And this is a good thing. Encryption of sensitive data allows an organization to move onto a cloud platform with less fear of breach. Not only have huge companies like Google and Windows pledged to encryption their data, but now smaller organizations can afford SaaS encryption. Companies like Vaultive offer encryption-in-use technology that protects sensitive data at every stage of delivery, even while it is being deployed by the end user.

As you can see, not only are cloud platforms getting more secure, but they are allowing an unprecedented level of control and customization. That optimization can lead to real savings on software and time, especially for smaller organizations. Cloud innovation has already happened. Now innovations will get refined for all users. The real question is, when are you going to adopt?

Interested in migrating to a cloud platform? Please contact us.

Anonymity Online – Should We Be Allowed Personal Privacy?

It’s an interesting time to be a commenter. In a move that was a year coming, Google Plus has become the mandatory system for commenting on YouTube. In order to post on any video, a user must create a Google Plus profile, which basically means using their real name. Google claims that this change will increase meaningful conversations on YouTube and help protect against harmful comments.

Send in the tanks. As you can imagine, the internet didn’t respond well to this. In addition to military graphics, nearly two hundred thousand users have signed a petition against the Google Plus move. Numerous articles have pointed out that the Google change-over hasn’t stopped the random or abusive comments, and some claim the randomness is even worse. Despite flame-attacks and user petitions, Google has only responded by thanking users for their feedback.

A Scanner Slightly? As an American citizen in the 21st century, I don’t particularly want my face and name posted all over the internet. But as a social media professional, I’ve seen this train coming down the tracks for a while. I also know that unless you’re making very strident security moves, someone can find your comments on the internet.

Ironically, the message board battles taking place over this event involve two parties—advocates for anonymity online and their counter-parts wanting security. As a 30 year-old man who’s spent half of his life on the internet, I strangely find myself siding with the security-minded. I’m simply tired of seeing pointless, homophobic, racist and unnecessarily malignant comments when all I want to do is watch Duran Duran’s Ultra Chrome, Latex and Steel Tour in 1997. I also know that the future of this connected world will involve my total presence, not just what I put down on my resume.

“You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Scott McNealy said it more than a decade ago, and it’s even truer now. Advocates for internet privacy don’t seem to understand the Brave New World we’ve all bought into. In a world where we’re connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week via social media, something like anonymity online doesn’t make any sense. I also don’t think it’s fair to connect wanting to blast people on YouTube with being a privacy advocate. And I understand that some people have reasonable complaints against Google’s information gathering ways, but that’s not what I’m seeing on the internet.

But perhaps all of this angst is a bit pointless, one way or another. We’re moving to a system of real names and faces. I also think younger users understand that. They’ve never been on an internet where you pretended to be someone else, and perhaps that is for the best.

What are your thoughts about anonymity on the internet?