Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Rishi Bhargava, Elizabeth White, Shelly Palmer, Sematext Blog, Kevin Benedict

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care

Listen: as cloud computing consultants, we drink the cloud computing koolaid. We’ve implemented cloud-based software for businesses of all sizes, across just about every industry. We’ve seen it revolutionize how businesses work.

We’ve also seen security become a very real and increasingly serious concern.

Don’t worry, it’s safe!

When we first began showing cloud-based software to clients, the idea of storing your data remotely was a new concept. Like clockwork, clients were all concerned about security. Is my data safe? What happens if the software company folds? Can we be hacked?

cloud securityLike good cloud computing consultants everywhere, we’d listen, smile, shake our heads, and explain why clients needn’t worry, how storing your data on 3rd party servers was safer than storing it locally, how Google had armed guards.

And that was all true. In many ways, top-of-class cloud-based software tools do deliver top-notch security.

But in other ways, those early clients had prescient concerns. The shift to cloud computing has – in subtle and not-so-subtle ways – followed a fundamental shift in data and how we think of property writ large.

Lets rewind….

Software-as-a-pain-in-the-ass (SAPAS)

Before Salesforce, before Google, there were local servers and hard drives. If businesses used software (and that’s a big “if”), they had it installed locally, on-site, on their own computers or servers. Barbaric, I know.

This had major disadvantages: accessing your programs if you weren’t at the office was a pain. Syncing data between workstations was a nightmare. Collaborating in real time without overwriting was impossible.

Then there were the bills. Typically, companies paid third-party consultants like us huge retainers to maintain servers, push updates, and install patches. The value-add of those consultants was technical – they operated as IT janitors, doing the dirty work that no one else wanted or knew how to. Inexplicably, this is still a viable business model.

But for many businesses, cloud computing changed all that.

Enter the cloud

With cloud computing, businesses didn’t have to worry about maintaining anything. Sign up for an account and you’re done: the vendor does all the dirty work, no middle-man necessary. Just you, your data, and your sweet, innocent software.

Other advantages followed. Because vendors no longer relied on resellers for sales, the market was flooded with new software options – and increased competition meant better, cheaper products. And because the cloud affords technical advantages (such as integrations), the feature-set deepened. What could possibly go wrong?

The fight for your data

As many, many observers predicted, data privacy and security is today a major concern for businesses. This fact is highlighted by recent revelations about the NSA’s writing backdoors into consumer software, and Target losing credit card data on tens of millions of its customers.

Used to be, we didn’t care much about that stuff. It won’t happen to you.

business hackerBut the reality is, something major has happened. Most businesses don’t have technical control of at least some – if not all – of their data anymore. Their banking data, their client data, their sales data, their documents and records – for millions of businesses, that stuff is stored on anonymous data servers and leased back.

Now, I’m not saying that’s an inherently bad thing. And it’s still true, for most businesses, that their data is safer (in some ways) now than it was when it was recorded on some dusty Exchange server in the closet.

But it’s also true that vendors, businesses, and consultants all need to do a better job of being honest about the state of software security. Too many vendors say “we use bank-grade encryption” and leave it at that. Too many clients aren’t asking the right questions. And too many consultants just don’t care.

A better way

By definition, cloud computing means a loss of some control. A relinquishing of technical reigns in return for better products. That’s just a fact.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t demand more.

Vendors should have transparent security outlines, where it’s 100% clear where your data is, what they’re doing with it, how it’s protected, and what they plan to do when something goes wrong.

Businesses should demand more. When vendors or consultants don’t address security, they should force the issue – and don’t accept anyone rolling their eyes.

Consultants should care more. They should know about SSL vs TSL; the difference between hashing and encryption; the strengths and limitations of multi-factor authentication.

This stuff is stressful to think about, but it’s super important. We’ve never had a client or a vendor suffer a data breach, but we also know it’s a lottery – and it’s up to us (and you) to mitigate risks.

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...