Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cloud Security Models

Cloud Security Models - A Search For Perfection

Author: Sharad Gozoop

Of late, cloud computing has become a subject for passionate discussions among IT professionals. Most of these discussions hover around security and privacy of data. It shows the apprehensions organizations have when it comes to securing data and maintaining an adequate regulatory compliance under a plethora of both federal and state capitol regulations.

Cloud Models
There are different Cloud Models and an understanding about them would be helpful for healthcare IT companies that are equally concerned about the security of patient information. These are (i) Software as a Service (SaaS) which is a software distribution model. Using this model different applications are uploaded by the service provider or vendors which are accessed by customers over a network. (ii) Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a standard, a pattern where operating systems and other services are delivered to the customers through internet. There are no downloads involved. (iii) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) takes care of outsourcing of equipment that are used to support functions (servers, networking components, storage, hardware etc.) (iv) There is another model called Xaas which denotes the selection of services made available through internet.

Studies by Ponemon Institute
But how foolproof are these models? A recent research by Ponemon Institute sponsored by Vormetric Inc. about the approach of organizations towards data security in cloud computing environments has thrown up certain important issues which should be a matter of concern for the healthcare IT companies too. In the survey done by the Institute among 1000 IT security practitioners and enterprise compliance officers, less than 50% believed that technology is adequate to protect their cloud infrastructure. While one third of IT security practitioners opined that "IaaS environs are as secured as on-premise datacenters," half of the compliance officers considered IaaS as secure. 21% of compliance officers thought that they are responsible for defining security arrangements and 22% of IT practitioners believed that business unit leaders are responsible. Further, for IT practitioners the most important security measure is the use of encryption to prevent cloud service providers from reading the data while that for compliance officers it is preventing access to data by these providers.

Healthcare Applications
Despite all these hiccups, advancements in computing have opened new vistas in Healthcare applications like medical imaging. With cloud diagnostic imaging becomes easy and faster irrespective of the device that takes the image and that is expected to lower costs for patients. However, the multitude of involvement of various other systems like EMRs can cause delays and wastage of time. Mobile service providers hold the key to establish and manage the networks securely thus improving efficiency and saving costs and it is not difficult as FDA approves systems like mobile MIM.

Moving Ahead
Spending on Cloud is expected to touch $73 billion by 2015, an increase of three times from 2010 expenditure according to IDC, an Analyst firm. It is only the starting point of a mission looking for new computing models that are 100% perfect in managing security concerns and risk factors or reducing costs. And it is certainly worth the effort.

Article Source: http://www.sooperarticles.com/health-fitness-articles/health-regulations-articles/cloud-security-models-search-perfection-713230.html

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