Whither Cloud Computing?

If you’ve heard of cloud computing and all the security issues that surround it, and if you’re wondering if you should trust the security of your sensitive and confidential data to a third party service provider, well, all I can say is that you’re like the old timer who hoards his wad of cash in crumpled bills under his mattress, believing that that’s the safest place for them simply because it’s within eyesight range. It’s an old school of thought that if you can see it, you can protect it. And although we have come a long way since the system of banking was invented and we accustomed ourselves to it, we’re still cavemen at heart who would prefer to keep our valuables close by.

Arguably the most valuable asset any enterprise has today is its data; without information, they’re nothing. And they must provide this data with the best safeguards there are in the business. This is why levels of security and passwords were invented, so that data is protected from prying eyes and the wrong hands. But your entire setup is only as strong as the weakest link, and here, it’s the human factor. If one employee can be tempted to compromise their principles and ethics, for money, revenge or any other reason, then it’s time to say goodbye to the usefulness of proprietary security measures. Human beings are also prone to errors, and because of that, we have data breaches through stolen and misplaced laptops or computers left unprotected through oversight.

Cloud computing is a pretty safe bet when you consider such issues – your data is not in your hands, which makes internal security lapses a moot issue. But there are other aspects that you must consider – the popularity and efficacy of the service provider you choose. Take Google for instance; the search engine giant is extremely popular, and as such, an attractive target for hackers. They know that if they target the cloud, they can bring down a host of sites with one blow. And so they’re going to try harder in their efforts to do so.

But organizations would be willing to stick with Google because they know what it’s capable of; they know that it has a reputation to live up to, and that there’s a certain aspect of trust involved when you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. Cloud computing is exactly that – putting all your eggs in one very protected basket. But if the basket does break, you’re in an unholy mess with egg all over your face! It’s a tricky proposition, deciding whether or not to go with cloud computing, a decision that your needs and budget must dictate.

The idea is still in its early stages, so we must wait and watch to see if any further security issues crop up. And crop up they will, because where there’s a target, you can bet your last dollar that there will be a hunter hidden in the bushes somewhere.

This post was contributed by Datakos guest author Holly McCarthy, who writes for the online college. Holly can be reached at hollymccarthy12@gmail.com.

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E-Discovery Trends in 2009 — New developments in e-discovery will affect enterprise general counsel and compliance officers, law firms serving corporate clients, and IT departments

By Christine Taylor, January 9, 2008, 12:10 PM

A few years ago, the Taneja Group coined the term “Information Classification and Management” (ICM) to describe the technology of locating and classifying data throughout the enterprise. ICM covered sub-technology sectors such as e-discovery, compliance, data security control, and data management. However, we saw the term “e-discovery” trump the more comprehensive name as rabid attention turned from ICM to the specifics of civil litigation software tools. We are now seeing the e-discovery term itself take on a fuller usage, more akin to ICM. People do use the term when talking about civil litigation, but are also expanding it to encompass compliance, corporate governance, data classification, and even knowledge management.

In this broad sense we have looked at the trends of the e-discovery market as they impact its largest stakeholders: the enterprise general counsel and compliance officers, law firms serving corporate clients, and IT.

The crux of the matter is that e-discovery and its related areas will be extremely hot for litigation and compliance, especially those related to the financial meltdown. The market increasingly understands the necessity of e-discovery software tools and systems, and will move toward proactive e-discovery adoption. A more reactive approach will remain alive and well as many companies will still avoid implementation until driven to it by a lawsuit or federal investigation. But companies will increasingly understand that the e-discovery solution phenomenon is much more than a litigation aid. It also has major effects on federal compliance and internal governance, and potentially on data management throughout the enterprise.

For more see byteandswitch.com.

E-Discovery Requirements Are About to Hit Canadian Firms

As Canadian firms brace for new e-discovery rules, they can look to their U.S. counterparts for technology lessons.

By Anne Rawland Gabriel

Time is growing short for Canadian securities firms to prepare for the scheduled April enforcement of the new Canadian National Instrument 31-103 (NI 31-103), regulation that significantly expands record keeping requirements for electronic communications. Fortunately NI 31-103 substantively mirrors U.S. regulations already in place, which means Canadian firms have the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.

“NI 31-103 is very similar to SEC and FINRA requirements in the U.S.,” substantiates Carolyn DiCenzo, a Gartner research VP. “It’s important to remember that the spirit of the law is communications and not just one particular type of communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging.”

For more see wallstreetandtech.com.

Data breaches rose sharply in 2008, study says Most of the lost data was neither encrypted nor password-protected

By Jeremy Kirk

January 7, 2009 (IDG News Service)

More than 35 million data records were breached in 2008 in the U.S., a figure that underscores continuing difficulties in securing information, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

The majority of the lost data was neither encrypted nor protected by a password, according to the ITRC’s report.

It documents 656 breaches in 2008 from a range of well-known U.S. companies and government entities, compared to 446 breaches in 2007, a 47% increase. Information about the breaches was collected by tracking media reports and the disclosures companies are required to make by law.

Data breach notification laws vary by state. Some companies do not reveal the number of data records that have been affected, which means the actual number of data breaches is likely much more than 35 million.

“More companies are revealing that they have had a data breach, either due to laws or public pressure,” the ITRC wrote on its Web site. “Our sense is that two things are happening — the criminal population is stealing more data from companies and that we are hearing more about the breaches.”

The data breaches came from a variety of mishaps, including theft of laptops, hacking, employees improperly handling data, accidental disclosure and problems with subcontractors.

For the rest of this story, see computerworld.com.

Obama Administration Could Mean More Compliance Regs

January 5, 2009
By Drew Robb

Just as accounting scandals earlier this decade led to new regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, last year’s global financial meltdown coupled with Democratic control of the White House and Congress seems like a recipe for a host of new compliance regulations — and thus more business for storage vendors and more work for storage administrators.

But the changes won’t stop with an Obama presidency and the 111th Congress. The leaders of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging countries (G-20) have been meeting to consider global regulations aimed at raising bank capital standards and regulating hedge funds, with European leaders at the forefront of the new financial market regulation.  While it might be years before all this results in any kind of international consensus, another round of regulation is almost certainly at hand.

* * *

SOX and other regulations like FRCP stimulated interest in the archive and nearline disk market and exposed tape media’s shortcomings for meeting search and audit requests.

“Generally, additional regulation mandates that organizations have to demonstrate their ability to reproduce transactional records within a specified timeframe when requested,” said Brian Kelly, an executive at Ernst and Young Global Ltd. “After the failure of some major organizations to respond to such audit requests, an overhaul of the archival process was mandatory.”

For more see enterprisestorageforum.com.

Performance Efficiency Comes to the Beltway — Obama to create new government position called “Chief Performance Officer”

In these tough economic times, government, like businesses, need to be more efficient and collaborate better in order to reduce deficits and improve performance.  Shareholders expect it, and so do the “American People.”

President-elect Barack Obama today will announce his pick for “chief performance officer,” a newly created position that will work on the federal budget and to reform government.

Barack Obama has selected Nancy Killefer to be his CPO, according to two Democratic officials.

Obama has selected Nancy Killefer, according to two Democratic officials. She is currently a senior director for McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm.  She was an assistant secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration.

The CPO will “help put us on a path to fiscal discipline,” a Democratic official said.  The announcement comes a day after Obama told reporters that the deficit will probably hit $1 trillion this year and that “potentially we’ve got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come.”

Reviewing Your Email and Internet Usage Policies

Written by Sue Walsh on January 2, 2009

As the year comes to a close it’s good time to review your Email and Internet usage policies and insure that they are clear and comprehensive. The folks over at SmartBiz have published some helpful tips to assist you. Here’s an excerpt:

As the Internet and email have become a big part of our everyday lives, employers need to make clear the separation between work and non-work. What someone would consider appropriate with friends may be out of line in the workplace. Each practice needs to have a clear, written policy in place to eliminate confusion by the employees on what is and is not acceptable.

Such policies are critical in this day and age. It only takes one email or dubious website to cause your business a lot of trouble in the form of viruses, security or confidentiality breaches, even lawsuits. So keep your policy updated and easily available to all your employees!