By: Karel Smrcka 30th March 2012
Hardly a week goes by without reports of security gaps, data theft or hacker attacks. Both businesses and private users are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
However, when it comes to technologies like cloud computing, trust and security are essential if we intend to use data and applications that are flexible, cost-effective and, above all, mobile. That is why researchers from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are working on a series of security solutions, which they presented at this year’s CeBIT in Hanover, Germay.
A Control Centre for the Cloud Where is my data? How secure and acessible is it? Are the terms of compliance being upheld? These questions are of primary concern to any information technology manager when introducing or using cloud computing. To help cloud users and providers maintain constant oversight over cloud applications and data security, scientists at the Research Institution for Applied and Integrated Security have developed the Cloud Control Centre. It provides global monitoring of all cloud services and reliably assesses their security.
The application compiles the key figures available from a cloud ecosystem. It filters, aggregates and interprets them in order to establish meaningful status reports about the entire cloud system in use. Security status information is supplied to administrators and managers in a clearly legible graphic display on an indi- vidually customised dashboard. At a glance, the cloud user has information about bandwidth that can be used to retrieve data from the cloud, or about the storage location and volume of data, or about the level of use of the capacity acquired.
Many companies also have to contend with security concerns related to inadvertent data leakage and dependence on cloud providers. That is why the experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology designed the OmniCloud software. It makes every backup solution cloud-capable and ensures that all data is encrypted before delivery to the cloud. “Even in the cloud, sensitive information is safeguarded against unauthorised third-party access,” says Michael Herfert, head of the Cloud, Identity and Privacy Department at the institute.
“At the same time, OmniCloud works like an adapter that interacts with the various cloud providers and knows their different programming interfaces.”
Development of this solution was prompted by a recent study on cloud ser- vice security. The study showed that no supplier was satisfying all security requirements – on multiple occasions, the authors gained access to sensitive personal data not intended for the general public. Cyber criminals would be able to use a few cloud storage services in order to spy out data or put malware into circulation.
Mobile Workstation of the Future Another impor- tant issue is confidence not only in the security but also in the handling of the technology itself. For this reason, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering designed the Cloud Workpad mobile IT workstation. It demonstrates what can be achieved in a practical setting limited exclusively to public cloud services. It reveals the boundaries between what is practical and what is feasible, such as in the interoperability of services or in the areas of security and data protection.
Hardly any applications had to be installed on the end device at the mobile IT workstation. The user accesses software as service applications only, which are available through the Internet. Those who are interested in the cloud should familiarise themselves with the potential and the advantages of new technologies and use patterns. On the other hand, the Cloud Workpad is intended to explore the limits of such services in the field and to show where action is needed in order to eliminate these constraints