Why physical security matters, even in the cloud

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Thomas J. Trappler advises you to vet cloud providers to make sure they have adequate physical security safeguards

At the Business of Cloud Computing Conference, I caught a presentation by Marlin Pohlman, who noted that No. 3 on the Cloud Security Alliance 's "Top Threats to Cloud Computing" list is malicious insiders. This serves as a good reminder that old-fashioned physical security issues require a lot of attention when you're considering a cloud service provider.

Just as a bank is a central repository for money and thus an attractive target for a robber, so is the data center of a cloud provider a central repository for valuable data resources and thus an attractive target for malicious hackers. So it's important to vet the physical security of a cloud provider's data centers. Here are some of the key issues to investigate:

[ In the data center today, the action is in the private cloud. InfoWorld's experts take you through what you need to know to do it right in our "Private Cloud Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Also check out our "Cloud Security Deep Dive," our "Cloud Storage Deep Dive," and our "Cloud Services Deep Dive." ]

Security policy. A policy typically details the mechanisms that the vendor has in place to prevent security breaches. An incident response plan typically details steps the provider will take should a breach occur. If the vendor has such documents, carefully review them. If it doesn't, that's a big red warning flag.

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