EU report investigates benefits and risks of cloud computing

ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency), the organisation that provides the EU with information and advice relating to IT security, has released a report examining how best to take advantage of cloud computing.

The report has been designed in order to address the concerns and questions of both public and private sector groups looking into the promising possibilities and potential pitfalls of cloud computing, with a focus on addressing security risks before they arise.

ENISA spokesperson Giles Hogben explained that whilst editing the report it became clear that the business benefits of cloud computing would appeal to a huge audience.

Hogben also highlighted the fact that many businesses were approaching the cloud solution with caution because of issues surrounding data security and trust. Companies are currently unsure as to whether they should utilise cloud computing providers because it could involve handing over control of the entire infrastructure of an enterprise to a third party.

35 potential security issues in the current cloud system were identified in the report, with a variety of concerns including compliance to industry standards and the obvious problems of data encryption and protection.

The report also considered the impact of cloud computing on various industries and organisations of all sizes. Small and medium enterprises migrating to a cloud platform, the way in which cloud computing would affect business continuity and its impact upon governmental and public sector services were all taken into account.

The scalability of the cloud platform was highlighted as both a blessing and a curse, with the cloud presenting a more attractive target for attackers whilst simultaneously being able to invest more into security and data protection.

The report is geared towards helping businesses to effectively choose between cloud computing firms and a list of criteria by which an individual could identify the suitability of one company over the next is included.

Businesses will be advised to carefully analyse the security employed by cloud computing firms use and to understand how the provisions of various EU legislation deal with matters related to the cloud.

It is clear that the report is of significance, not just to businesses but to cloud computing firms looking to compete in an increasingly popular marketplace that is subject to ever closer scrutiny.

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