Ineffective or noncompliant security practices of service providers, the inability of customers to examine controls, the prospect of data leakage and the loss of data if a cloud service is terminated present challenges.
"With a company-issued device, you can issue a policy that says users have no rights of privacy over information on the device," says Javelin's Tom Wills. But with employee-owned devices? A whole new set of issues.
The Department of Homeland Security becomes the first federal agency to award a task order using a General Services Administration's blanket purchase agreement for an infrastructure-as-a-service, cloud-computing offering, says GSA Assistant Commissioner Mary Davie.
Information security poses a major challenge to the widespread adoption of cloud computing, yet the Cloud Security Alliance, an association of cloud stakeholders, sees the cloud as a provider of information security services.
Before entering a contract with a cloud computing vendor, it pays to do your homework on key privacy and security issues, three experts advise. They suggest demanding transparency into the details of all cloud operations.
Organizations entering into a contract with a cloud computing vendor need to have a clear understanding of how the vendor operates before signing off on their services, says Chris Witt of Wake Technology Services Inc.
Organizations eager to take advantage of cloud computing need to take a step back and consider many critical privacy and security issues, says Feisal Nanji, executive director at the security consulting firm Techumen.
"The more that you could focus in on computer science topics, to understand programming, network-based technology and mobile-based technology, the better off you're going to be," says Rob Lee of SANS Institute.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking advice from cloud computing vendors on the feasibility of using commercial software-as-a-service collaborative tools that eventually could meet the needs of all of its 134,000 medical personnel.
ISACA's Marc Vael says differences in cloud computing environments and cloud providers can pose security risks. But well thought-out contracts and risk-management plans can fill potential security gaps and ensure business continuity during outages and disasters.