Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Software Attempts to Ease Security Concerns

It’s no secret that businesses are moving toward cloud computing. The flexible storage system offers businesses lower costs, higher returns and increased efficiency. At the Oracle OpenWorld 2010 trade show in San Francisco, 90 percent of the executives and 68 percent of the middle managers said they are using or plan to use cloud-based services within two years.

Still, security and data privacy continues to be some of the cloud’s major setbacks. When Unisys Corp. asked enterprise users in an online poll “What do you see as your greatest barrier to moving to cloud?” 51 percent of the 312 respondents cited security and data privacy concerns.

Researchers are working toward a solution to some of those security concerns with software called HomeAlone, which will be presented in May at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

According to a report from MIT’s Technology Review, the software lets companies that ask for their data to be stored in physical isolation to verify that it is, in fact, alone on a server. It borrows techniques that are more commonly used by hackers, such as detecting the presence of other virtual machines on a server via what are known as "side channels." Side channels are the byproducts of running software: power usage data or the pattern in which software accesses temporary storage.

Michael Reiter, a professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina and one of the software developers, said HomeAlone can help only those cloud computing customers who require that their data be physically isolated. "This is not a solution to cloud security en masse," he said in the MIT article.

About the Author

Cindy Horbrook is content development editor for Security Products magazine.

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