Encrypting data in the cloud

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We’re in the midst of analyzing some survey data for an upcoming report on cloud computing strategy and have discovered that, thus far into the cloud computing era, security is till the No. 1 concern among companies debating going to the cloud. But a cloud environment isn’t inherently less secure than an on-premise environment; it’s all in the implementation.
Encryption of data is one way to mitigate the risk of data exposure, a major security and compliance concern. This article by Thomas Trappler, director of software licensing at UCLA, examines the questions to ask a cloud provider about how encryption is implemented in their environment, and introduces two new encryption concepts being developed on the cloud provider side: distributed file systems and data obfuscation.
An interesting takeaway from the article is the importance of the handling of encryption keys. If they’re stored local to the data, they can be retrieved by an attacker and used to de-encrypt data. But if they’re stored elsewhere and lost, the data becomes useless.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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