Google says security is better in the cloud, but many doubts remain

By Danny Palmer
16 Oct 2012 View Comments

Information is more secure in the cloud than it is when stored in traditional corporate datacentres, at least according to Google.

Speaking at the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference 2012 in Sydney, Eran Feigenbaum (pictured), Google's enterprise director of security, said: "Cloud is typically less expensive than traditional on-premise software – especially if I start adding all the other costs of backup, anti-virus, storage, etc – but it shouldn't mean that it's cheap [as in poor quality].

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"There may be different providers and different solutions that are intended for different purposes," Feigenbaum continued. "But I believe that cloud computing, compared to what most organisations are doing today, is probably more secure."

The Google Apps security chief's views conflict with what many IT professionals feel about the cloud, with recent research by Computing suggesting the nearly half feel cloud storage is riskier.

Forty-seven per cent of the 155 respondents said they wouldn't consider moving mission-critical applications to the cloud compared to 37 per cent who would move at least some across, and 17 per cent who didn't know.

Of those who wouldn't consider shifting mission-critical applications to the cloud, a huge 70 per cent told Computing that data security was the main concern that prevented them from doing so.

If that isn't enough to suggest that Feigenbaum has an uphill battle when it comes to convincing doubters that security is better in the cloud, our research showed that security is seen to be an issue even for those already actively using cloud to some extent.

When asked "What is preventing a greater use of the cloud for your mission-critical applications", 62 per cent of IT professionals surveyed responded with fears about data security, while 25 per cent also cited concerns over infrastructure security.

Perhaps most damningly of all for Feigenbaum's argument, only five per cent of respondents to the Computing survey listed improved security as an advantage of the cloud.

That's compared to 43 per cent who told us ease of maintenance is an advantage, and 41 per cent who agree that flexibility offered by the cloud is one of its top benefits.

Despite the claims that cloud offers more security, Google also warned that no organisation is completely secure against an attack, and if such an event occurs, cloud customers have a right to know what happened.

Many organisations are attempting to urge customers that cloud is the future. Cisco UK and Ireland CTO Ian Foddering told Computing that more case studies about the positive aspects of cloud are needed to help overcome concerns people have about it.

Google's comments about security in the cloud come at a time when the EU is planning a coherent cloud strategy for the future.

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