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Today, we have the ability to utilize scalable, distributed computing environments within the confines of the Internet, a practice known as cloud computing. In this new world of computing, users are universally required to accept the underlying premise of trust. Within the cloud computing world, the virtual environment lets users access computing power that exceeds that contained within their own physical worlds. Typically, users will know neither the exact location of their data nor the other sources of the data collectively stored with theirs. The data you can find in a cloud ranges from public source, which has minimal security concerns, to private data containing highly sensitive information (such as social security numbers, medical records, or shipping manifests for hazardous material). Does using a cloud environment alleviate the business entities of their responsibility to ensure that proper security measures are in place for both their data and applications, or do they share joint responsibility with service providers? The answers to this and other questions lie within the realm of yet-to-be-written law. As with most technological advances, regulators are typically in a "catch-up" mode to identify policy, governance, and law. Cloud computing presents an extension of problems heretofore experienced with the Internet. To ensure that such decisions are informed and appropriate for the cloud computing environment, the industry itself should establish coherent and effective policy and governance to identify and implement proper security methods.
Date of Publication: July-Aug. 2009