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Private vs Public Cloud Security: Top Security Issues

public vs private cloud public cloud security cloud security issues  private vs public cloud security Private vs Public Cloud Security: Top Security IssuesSo, you think your five year old private cloud security is stronger than a public Infrastructure as a Service cloud (like AWS, HP, and Microsoft Azure)? Think again.

The reality is that a public cloud provider is likely investing more in infrastructure security and P3 (People, Process, Products) than your organization.

Does that mean that you can safely move your data to a public IaaS cloud? Not necessarily.

Any public cloud vendor will tell you off the bat that public cloud security requires a “shared responsibility” model.

It is confusing: on one hand, we tell you that public cloud security is likely safer, while on the other, we tell you it’s not necessarily safe to migrate to a public cloud. So let’s get down to details and clear up the confusion.

Private Cloud Security vs Public Cloud Security Comparison

Most enterprises are strategically looking at public clouds, while nurturing (and sometimes extending) the corporate private cloud. There are many reasons for that approach, but when it comes to data security, hardening and securing each cloud type is a fundamentally different task.

Private clouds are more secure in the sense that your servers and data are guarded behind the walls of a location managed and hopefully guarded by the enterprise. But implementing and maintaining the IT security is a daunting and resource-intensive task. You’ll need to build and maintain perimeter security, application security, and operating systems security. You must educate your employees. You will require IT personnel to handle the workload.

In a public infrastructure cloud, the responsibility for physical access, virtualization level security, and standardization is shifted to the cloud provider (who actually does a great job most of the time). You, the customer, are still responsible for operating system security, application security, and complying with specific regulatory standards such as HIPAA and PCI.

The cloud key management dilemma

As a cloud encryption vendor, we’re often asked about the “value” of cloud encryption. Cloud encryption can be cheap (if your cloud provider manages the encryption keys). But cheap encryption is, most times, insecure. Also, cheap encryption raises compliance issues as you allow someone else to manage the encryption keys for you.

The alternative, traditional way of encrypting, takes you back to the “pre-cloud” days by managing encryption keys yourself using Hardware Security Modules (HSMs). An HSM is certainly a highly secure option for key management; but, in a cloud (private or public), HSMs are challenged with two major issues.

  1. HSMs limits many of the cloud benefits, specifically around auto provisioning, orchestration and geographic dispersion (after all – it is hardware)
  2. The encryption keys are insecure the moment they leave to the cloud (to encrypt a disk or any other cloud resource).
  3. Needless to say, HSMs are far more expensive.

Now, let’s leave the dilemma in the past and look to the future for a solution.

The future – cloud encryption stronger than hardware

There’s a need for a fresh, fundamentally new approach to cloud encryption.

To deal with the complexity of cloud encryption while not compromising the enterprise trust, companies like Porticor Cloud Security leverage innovative cloud encryption techniques like split-key encryption and homomorphic key management (read more about it in this white paper).

These technologies enable public cloud customers to consume encryption as a service, without compromising the security of the encryption keys. As illustrated in this short video, split-key encryption is based on the concept used by Swiss banks’ safety deposit boxes: two owners hold keys, and only the combination of both keys can open or lock a safe.

Porticor splits the encryption key in half, providing one half for the customer, and keeping the second half with the “banker” – a Porticor key management service. Using split-key encryption technologies, no “secrets” are stored in the cloud key management system, as the Porticor’s key management system holds only half of the secret (half of the encryption key), and the cloud customer holds the second half.

Better Security in the Cloud

To declare a winner in the private cloud vs public cloud security rivalry would be remiss. In fact, better security is not a question of which cloud type you pick. Your data and applications can be totally secure in a private cloud, with an HSM and IT personnel to properly build, update, and maintain your security protocol. But that security may come at a higher price.

In the pubic cloud, because the provider maintains part of the security responsibility, the financial burden of securing your apps and data is lessened. However, you still share the responsibility and must not take your part lightly. If you take the proper precautions with your data encryption keys, you can be totally secure (and, as an added bonus, compliant with regulations and restrictions) in a public cloud too.

The post Private vs Public Cloud Security: Top Security Issues appeared first on Porticor Cloud Security.

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More Stories By Gilad Parann-Nissany

Gilad Parann-Nissany, Founder and CEO at Porticor is a pioneer of Cloud Computing. He has built SaaS Clouds for medium and small enterprises at SAP (CTO Small Business); contributing to several SAP products and reaching more than 8 million users. Recently he has created a consumer Cloud at G.ho.st - a cloud operating system that delighted hundreds of thousands of users while providing browser-based and mobile access to data, people and a variety of cloud-based applications. He is now CEO of Porticor, a leader in Virtual Privacy and Cloud Security.