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Thinking about Security in the Cloud

As we begin to store more and more of our data on the Internet and in the “Cloud,” the threat of that data being accessed and used by someone or something outside of our knowledge or control becomes very real. Data such as credit card information, banking transactions, work history, private addresses and numbers, email and much more are now stored and searchable in everything from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and a host of other applications. In a June report titled “ Assessing the Security Risks of Cloud Computing “, analyst firm Gartner recommends that businesses work closely with their IT department or trusted IT services provider and consultant to understand the risks of storing data in the cloud. Not stopping there, Microsoft has called for even greater government oversight. Recently, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith travelled to Washington to urge the US Congress to enact legislation that would protect information that’s stored in the cloud. Microsoft is proposing legislation that would call for: Reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Modernizing the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Helping consumers and businesses manage how their information is collected and shared Addressing data access issues globally The move coincides with Microsoft’s recent efforts to offer cloud-based services not only for its consumer and corporate customers, but the government as well. Is your business ready for the cloud? What security and privacy policies do you have in place regarding your employees’ use of cloud-based services? Not sure? Contact us today to find out how we can help. Related links: Microsoft’s thoughts on cloud computing (microsoftontheissues.com) Challenges of cloud computing (techsling.com) Gartner: Seven cloud-computing security risks (infoworld.com)

SaaS Characteristics and Integration

SaaS has several characteristics that set it apart from other services: SaaS allows the access and use of commercially available software through a remote, network, or internet connection. This means that the software is not installed in the subscriber’s computer, but rather on the SaaS provider’s server. This also makes the software accessible to the subscriber regardless of his or her location. SaaS provides commercially available software, not custom made software, meaning that a particular software service is made available to multiple clients, so customization is limited to only what the software or SaaS provider allows. The SaaS provider shoulders the responsibility of updating the software, and subscribers can request updates, upgrades, and additional features. Regarding implementation, SaaS architecture is classified into four “maturity” levels based on factors such as configurability, multi-tenant efficiency, and scalability. Level 1 is the “ad-hoc/custom” level, in which a modified version of a particular piece of software is offered to subscribers, which is then run on the provider’s host server. This level is requires the lowest maintenance. The second level offers more customization and allows subscribers to configure the metadata of a program. This then allows a customized version of the same software, based on the needs of the subscriber. Multi-tenant efficiency is added to the third maturity level, which means that the SaaS servers are made more conducive for subscribers to use separate instances of a single application. The fourth and most “mature” SaaS architecture offers all four factors, with the service reaching optimum efficiency. Considering SaaS for your business? Let us help you sort through the details.

SaaS: An Overview

SaaSThe growing reach and power of the internet has changed the way people do business, with more and more web-based services popping up. One of these is SaaS.

SaaS stands for Software as a Service, which refers to any licensed software being “rented” to a company by another company on an as-needed basis.

Learn more…