Verizon Business Offers Tips on How Enterprises Can Secure the Cloud


Although there is a growing awareness of the many benefits of cloud computing -- including on-demand provisioning that enables businesses to increase efficiency and control IT costs -- concerns about security are often cited as the No. 1 barrier to widespread adoption of cloud solutions.  

According to industry experts, many enterprises are still grappling with concerns about data integrity, recovery and privacy, as well as regulatory compliance in a cloud environment.

At the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit 2010 this week, Verizon Business will address security in the cloud by leaving the audience with some key tips to keep their data and networks safe:

-- Evaluate your goals.  Before deciding to move your IT services to the cloud, understand the business benefits you want to achieve.  Typical benefits include: reducing the time and effort to launch new applications, enabling IT to become more responsive to the needs of the business, and lowering capital expenditures.

After defining the business goals, perform a risk-benefit analysis to determine if a move into the cloud is appropriate for the business.  A few questions to consider: What are the possible scenarios should the data be compromised?  What processes would be jeopardized if the cloud service failed?

-- Perform due diligence.  Once the business is committed to the cloud model, determine which deployment model – public, private or hybrid – best meets the business' requirements.

-- Choose wisely.  When selecting a partner to deliver services via the cloud, select a partner with a heritage in both IT and security services.  Verify that risk mitigation is part of the provider's security practice.  Pick a service provider that can integrate IT, security and network services, as well as provide robust service-performance assurances.

Neutral third parties can provide guidance on picking a partner.  The Cloud Security Alliance, which promotes the use of best practices for securing the cloud, offers a list of corporate members.  

-- To protect your data, take a good look at your provider.  According to the Cloud Security Alliance, the top security threat associated with the cloud is data loss and leakage.  As such, how well the provider protects sensitive data is paramount.

When evaluating a provider, analyze the company's ability to deliver the same types of controls that would usually be done in-house – physical security, logical security, encryption, change management and business continuity and disaster recovery.  Also, verify that the provider engages in safe data handling with documented backup, availability and destruction procedures.  

-- Consider a hybrid security model. Incorporate a mix of services delivered in-the-cloud and on premises.  This can help allay data security and privacy concerns as well as leverage legacy investments.

-- Remember to comply!  Investing in the cloud and focusing on security can all be for naught if compliance initiatives are not met.  Additionally, many regulations, such as the PCI Data Security Standard, include best practices that enhance a company's security posture.  Communicate relevant regulations to your cloud provider, and work with the provider to facilitate compliance.  

"Cloud computing offers businesses so many tangible benefits that it's a shame to see security fears inhibiting adoption of the technology," said Peter Tippett, vice president of technology and innovation at Verizon Business.  "While the security concerns are valid, the prescription to alleviate them exists.  Simple security actions, such as performing due diligence and embracing risk management, have an enormous impact when done consistently."  

Verizon Computing as a Service Built to Be Secure

A leader in the secure delivery of cloud-based IT services, Verizon relies on the company's global IP infrastructure and data centers to helps customers efficiently manage on-demand computing resources, including server, network and storage capacity.  Verizon Computing as a Service (CaaS), the company's flagship cloud-based computing service, enables businesses to pay only for the resources used and avoid buying equipment and adding staff to build out for peak capacity requirements. Designed with security in mind, it features secure connections to customer-provisioned resources, a multi-tiered network with a virtual firewall and an audit trail for all changes.