The rise in cloud computing has people excited about its new capabilities. Resources are easily obtainable, system infrastructures are already constructed and up-front costs are drastically lower than self-hosted systems.
However, these aspects also present risks to the security of information and data through a number of threats. These threats often overshadow the possible benefits that cloud computing may present, making the debate of cloud computing’s reliability sometimes one-sided.
In order to balance the debate over the strength of cloud computing capabilities, David Molnar and Stuart Schechter of Microsoft Research presented their findings at The Ninth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security at Harvard University. Their presentation, Self Hosting vs. Cloud Hosting: Accounting for the security impact of hosting in the cloud, addressed solutions to the many threats that people associate with the new system.
They addressed every possible attack that could occur from leasing shared resources from a host. Threats to infrastructure assembly, contractual threats and legal and jurisdictional threats were all given a counterpart solution by Molnar and Schechter.
“For leasing-induced threats, in which tenants fear that a cloud provider will not be sufficiently diligent in protecting infrastructure, it should come as no surprise that countermeasures focus on auditing mechanisms and, where possible, restoration of policy control to tenants. For sharing-induced threats, technology issues are more prevalent but policy issues remain pervasive.”
After an in-depth explanation of these countermeasures for issues such as deceptive billing, secret law enforcement searches and boundary breaches from other tenants, Molnar and Schechter presented the benefits of working with a shared infrastructure.
One of the benefits that was discussed was the fixed costs of securing a hosting infrastructure. “Cloud-infrastructure operators can amortize these fixed costs over a much larger infrastructure than self-hosting organizations can. Staff in cloud hosting providers can become more specialized than their counterparts administering self-hosted infrastructure, allowing them to develop expertise that increases productivity while receiving lower per-employee training.”
Their findings introduced solutions to the many questions that a shared infrastructure presented. With these solutions, it is possible to see the bright future for cloud infrastructures and Molnar and Schechter believe that the benefits that result from the rise in cloud computing
“Cloud hosting has desirable features including low up-front costs, elasticity of resources, and cost savings that result from economies of scale.”