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September 28, 2012

Cloud Security a Challenge for Many SMBs

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Maybe we’re getting a little too comfortable in the cloud. Services such as Gmail, Dropbox (News - Alert) and iCloud, and the growing trend of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), have made cloud computing a technology that many people and businesses now rely upon. What is sometimes lost, however, is that the cloud is not always as safe as our desktops.

The cloud is here to stay, no doubt, said Brendan Ziolo (News - Alert), vice president of marketing for Kindsight, an Alcatel-Lucent company that specializes in security and analytics. But it is still early days when it comes to cloud security, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular should pay attention to the security issues.

“We’re still in the relatively early stages of cloud computing from a security perspective,” he said in a TMCnet interview. “Consumers and SMBs need to be more concerned about these security risks and take the proper precautions to secure their data in the cloud.”

The difference between consumer and enterprise clouds is one area many SMBs should focus on more, according to Ziolo.

“The difference is in reliability and stronger security,” he said. While many consumer services are free, smart businesses are paying for enterprise-grade service that’s up and running 24/7, along with security geared to protect sensitive corporate data.

“By tapping into the public cloud, you are trusting someone else with your data,” Ziolo noted.  “Cybercriminals often just need a username and password to access your data. For instance, the hacking of Dropbox in early August is just one recent example that highlights the security risk of cloud services and how you should treat them as a public repository.”

Dropbox, a favorite cloud-based syncing service among consumers and many SMBs, announced in early August that a security breach had let hackers access the files of select Dropbox accounts. For an SMB, this is like putting files cabinets and desktops on the curb for anyone to potentially access. Worse, this was not the first time that Dropbox, a major player, had dropped the ball when it comes to security.

“How a company responds to security challenges defines the difference between earnest startups and companies that deserve to graduate to the big time,” noted Ed Bott at ZDNet at the time. “Dropbox just failed that test.”

Compliance issues, a related area, also become more complex in the cloud.

“Compliance becomes more challenging in that you have less control over something you don’t host yourself,” noted Ziolo at Kindsight (News - Alert). “Therefore, you need to make sure that your cloud provider offers safeguards to meet your compliance needs. For example, certain data may need to be stored using specific encryption or authenticated techniques.”

Ziolo covers the question of cloud security during a session at this year’s Cloud4SMB Expo, held in Austin, Texas from October 2-5 as part of ITEXPO West 2012.

“Attendees will learn how service providers, businesses and end users can leverage cloud-based security technologies to protect themselves,” Ziolo explained. “We’ll also share how network-based malware detection systems can provide operators with more protection over their networks and launch mobile security services to generate revenue and reduce customer churn.”

Want to learn more about cloud computing solutions geared specifically towards small to medium-sized businesses? Don’t miss the Cloud4SMB Expo, collocated with ITEXPO Austin 2012 taking place Oct 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Cloud4SMB Expo. Follow us on Twitter.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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