As employees turn to new services, managers fret about the vulnerability of their data
Eran Feigenbaum knows a thing or two about risk. He moonlights as the TV and stage magician “Eran Raven,” known for stunts involving snakes, scorpions, and razor blades. He once played Russian roulette with nail guns on the NBC show Phenomenon, and in August he did a five-day run at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. That pedigree serves him well in his day job as director of security for Google’s business applications, where he’s responsible for convincing corporate risk managers of the safety of cloud computing. Working in computer security requires “a hyperawareness” of risk, he says, “the same as when you’re on stage performing with nail guns.”
Cloud computing has become one of tech’s biggest buzzwords. These services, offered by Google, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and dozens of others, offer computing power over the Internet as an alternative for companies that have traditionally bought their own fleets of giant server computers. The approach has won fans among corporate software developers and rank-and-file employees who like having access to documents and programs from any device at any time.
Corporate policymakers, though, have yet to fully embrace the cloud, fearing that the services may compromise proprietary data. A survey by researcher IDC found that fewer than a third of IT executives feel the benefits of cloud computing outweigh its risks. Nearly a quarter of the 500 executives surveyed said they don’t fully understand the regulatory and compliance issues in cloud computing, and 47 percent say cloud services present a security threat. Companies that don’t understand the risks “just shouldn’t use cloud computing,” says IDC analyst Phil Hochmuth. “The potential for a security breach or a compliance violation can be high.” Read the rest of this entry »