I attended the Trend Micro seminar in Ottawa last week, where their CTO opened the talk on Cloud Computing security with the term ‘Dark Clouds‘. Rafael Ruffolo covered that same seminar in Toronto the next day with this article, but he didn’t mention the dark clouds opening analogy (maybe he had a different opening for the Toronto audience). I didn’t write about it that week, as I was insanely busy and the theme of the week wasn’t cloud computing, but the recent news about Canada’s rise in hosting cyber criminals and Google’s support and resulting fine for online pharma scams gave me inspiration for this post.
The seminar opened with a variety of illustrations of organized crime use of the cloud, hence the dark cloud analogy. Nice opener for a company selling security software, he gave me a good scare; the talk was very informative and filled with sobering facts. Organized crime is global, and they’ve been using cloud computing technology for years. Not just by building a spambot army, but also using cloud hosting facilities around the world in ways that make it difficult to track them. Kathleen Lau’s article noted above, illustrates that the problem is growing, and that there has been a shift in operations from the US to Canada because of a recent crackdown south of the border. The article also notes that Canada is second to Egypt in the number of servers hosting malicous sites, not a standing that we should be proud of.
With a new digital economy strategy to be released soon, Canada has the opportunity to be a global leader in cloud computing, but hopefully not in the nefarious sense above. With a stronger mandate, our government should be able to proceed more quickly in fixing problems in Canadian cyberspace, and enabling legitimate Canadian enterprises to be more successful online.
One of the aspects of public compute clouds is that we don’t care where our service is running, and the hosting organization doesn’t care what the service is that is running on their infrastructure. Hopefully the Google half billion dollar fine will make public cloud service providers a little more careful who they do business with. We as Canadian IT professionals should care where our cloud services are run. Since the cloud computing delivery model is expected to become the dominant source of compute capacity, why not make Canada the best place to host these services? It would be a great boost to our economy. If we want this business, we need to make compute hosting safer in Canada. To win this business we also must be better; meaning, ‘greener’, cheaper, better supported, more reliable, etc.
There are Canadian companies like Entrust and others that are security leaders, so we have the the opportunity to be global leaders. We have already shown the world that our banking system is more reliable than that of our neighbours to the south, that’s already a big step towards encouraging enterprises to do more business in Canada. Let’s also make Canada the safest place to do business online.