Strategy Director, Security & Fire, Informa Markets EMEA

May 27, 2021

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Cloud-based security

Security: Is the answer in the cloud?

Event Director, Gerry Dunphy, investigates whether the cloud really is the ‘Holy Grail’ when it comes to security.

According to research giant Gartner, global spending on public cloud services will rise by 18.4% in 2021 to a value of $304.9bn. Driven by increased demand as a result of COVID-19, the research predicts this trend will continue through to 2024. A separate Gartner report forecast 70% of businesses already using the cloud will increase adoption in direct response to the pandemic and Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report reveals that 9 out of 10 companies have accelerated their cloud adoption in the face of COVID.

Right now, claims Flexera, nearly all organisations (99%) use at least one public or private cloud, (the top three being AWS, Azure and Google). Currently 50% of workloads and 46% of data are in public clouds, and that’s expected to grow this year by 7% and 8%, respectively.

The rise in cloud use is no great surprise. It’s been around for over two decades and its uptake was building rapidly even before the pandemic – we’ve had manufacturers of cloud-based services exhibiting at IFSEC International for the last two or three years. But, with the majority of the workforce operating remotely and/or from home since March 2020, COVID has certainly accelerated its adoption – or at the very least, increased awareness of its possibilities.

Cloud benefits

The likes of AWS, Azure and Google furnish organisations with a dozen reasons for using the cloud, from cost savings, flexibility, mobility, insight and increased collaboration, to loss prevention, disaster recovery, quality control and security. And yet there remains a reticence around using the cloud and specifically around using the cloud in isolation. Instead, the most common approach to these concerns may likely be to adopt a hybrid solution: using the cloud for primary storage and conventional solutions as a backup. According to Flexera’s research, this applied to 78% of respondents. 

Who is the cloud good for?

When cyber security goes wrong, breaches can include enormous data leaks and compromises – think back to Ocado and TalkTalk. In these circumstances, the smart companies use the learnings to strengthen their weak links and further shore up their defences against future hacks. But the fact the cloud relies on the internet means – in my opinion – that all businesses should proceed with caution, and we’re often told by security experts that some high-risk sectors should probably avoid it altogether. Of course, there is a growing awareness of the importance of physical and cyber security of data centres dedicated to cloud storage, and proponents would argue these are likely to be more secure than most measures implemented at an on-premise location for the majority of organisations.

The cloud’s suitability for a specific sector depends on several factors, including national allowances on data storage – the US has incredibly strict rules on the length of time organisations can keep data and, under GDPR regulation, UK and EU businesses must also adhere to stringent legislation. This means for sectors like healthcare, for example, which needs to keep records for much longer periods, the cloud may not be ideal. We often hear that, where very rich or sensitive data is being stored, it’s suggested that the cloud is not an ideal method of storage, either. This would apply to healthcare, again, and also to government departments, which manage and store exceptionally sensitive information around defence and national security. In these instances, encryption is imperative, and there’s a commonly held view that the cloud is far from the ‘Holy Grail’.

What lies in store for the future?

While I don’t claim to be any kind of oracle on the future of the security industry, there are many experts who are, including Professor Fraser Sampson. In his Home Office role as Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material and Surveillance Cameras, Fraser participated in a panel discussion The Future of Video Surveillance in Security – Challenges, Opportunities and Trends as part of IFSEC International Connect’s strategy talks on the 1st of June.

Fraser was joined by Ben Linklater (Optex and representing the BSIA), Alex Carmichael (SSAIB), Oliver Philippou (Omdia) and Leo Levit (ONVIF). Watch the panel discussion back on-demand, below:

 

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