Over the last couple of years Cloud Computing has started gaining some real leverage, it’s being deployed on a wide scale, it’s becoming more affordable and the platforms supplying such services are becoming more stable.
Of course the natural progression of this wider adoption is the focus of the security community and naturally the bad guys too.
Legitimate businesses may well be turning to the Cloud in increasing numbers, but so too are illegitimate business, according to the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor.
In a speech, given at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Annual Conference in Sydney, O’Connor said cyber criminals were increasingly exploiting the Cloud to achieve their own aims.
“Cyber criminals can not only steal data from Clouds, they can also hide data in Clouds,” he said. “Rogue Cloud service providers based in countries with lax cybercrime laws can provide confidential hosting and data storage services, which facilitates the storage and distribution of criminal data, avoiding detection by law enforcement agencies. By way of example, O’Connor said cyber criminals could use the Cloud to secretly store and distribute child abuse material for commercial purposes.
“Cyber criminals can control servers in Clouds, denying legitimate users access to websites and targeting websites with repeated messages or images,” he said. “There have also been suggestions that Clouds can be used as launching pads for new attacks, such as trying all possible password combinations to break into encrypted data.”
According to O’Connor, the late 2009 attack on Google and several other companies was a reminder of how vulnerable systems and data were.
The whole Cloud model is a boon for cyber-criminals as they can effectively rent as much computing power and storage space as they need with stolen credit card details. They can keep it private if they want, and it’s distributed virtually ‘bullet-proof’ hosting.
I’m sure it’s something which will become more prevalent and I’m pretty sure it’s something which the authorities will start looking into soon. The one thing that will get everyone hot and bothered is if it’s discovered that a Cloud Platform is being used for any form of terrorism.
In order to mitigate the risks posed by cyber security, increased transparency and confidence building between Cloud service providers, businesses and government agencies was required, O’Connor said.
For its part, the government was seeking to achieve this through Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) High Tech Crime Unit, a child exploitation tracking system developed by CrimTrac, and thought leadership from the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
“AGIMO has consulted widely across government, and is currently investigating a number of issues, including: the vulnerability of offshore data storage; the extra-territorial legal issues around compliance and privacy; and, the contractual arrangements necessary to achieve appropriate levels of security,” O’Connor said.
“Because Cloud service providers aren’t interchangeable, the difficulties inherent in swapping providers will also need to be considered, along with the ability to retrieve information in the event of a disaster or vendor failure.”
In addition, there may also be increased security or privacy risks for governments if a Cloud had unrelated customers sharing hardware and software resources, with the concentration of resources and data in one place providing an attractive target for cyber-criminals.
As with any new platform it needs to mature and it needs some kind of legislation to crack down on illegal activities plus laws to deal with privacy, data segregation and so on.
It’s certainly an area which has sparked some interest and I’m sure we’ll all be watching it closely. I do deal with some large scale web deployments that need high-availability/clustered/cloud platform components so I’m pretty sure some of you do to.
Source: Network World
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