Cloud security improvements requested by Microsoft

In a bid to increase confidence in cloud computing, Microsoft is calling for legislative and regulatory action from vendors and the US government aimed at improving the security of current cloud platforms.

Microsoft’s senior VP Brad Smith told the Washington D.C. based think tank at the Brookings Institute last week that businesses were not being provided with enough motivation to switch from in-house data backup and storage systems over to the cloud.

As a cloud provider itself Microsoft is of course affected and Mr Smith’s call for transparency in cloud security measures and standards would also require that the US government took it upon itself to create policies designed to police cloud computing. Mr Smith also suggested that there should be stronger powers available to punish criminals seeking to compromise the integrity of cloud systems.

Mr Smith said that cloud vendors could only win the trust of businesses if they were willing to openly explain how their data was stored and in what way it would be used by them. The involvement of a third party in any aspect of a business’ operation is always going to come under scrutiny and when valuable data is involved this is intensified.

The flow of data from individual PCs in a business network to the cloud would need to be governed by the elected authorities, said Mr Smith. Protecting the privacy of the individual in the eyes of the state would also have to be ensured and it is getting this balance of transparency and security right that is clearly the biggest challenge facing businesses and cloud vendors.

Mr Smith pushed for wider debate on the international stage concerning the regulation and operation of the cloud, because it is clearly necessary to keep global as well as national legislation in step with the ever-progressing technology involved.

Microsoft has evidence to support its desire for a more thorough discussion of cloud security and data protection policy, as a recent survey it commissioned found that 90 per cent of business owners are questioning the security and privacy of data stored using cloud computing. The survey also found that there is much enthusiasm for cloud computing, with 86 per cent saying that they were interested in the opportunities it offers.

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