Why Cloud Computing Will Shake Up Security

As the curtain opens on 2016, you can expect massive changes in the security landscape. Technology providers such as firewall vendors, switching vendors and others will fade as new solutions better suited to the cloud computing environment emerge.

On the flip side, companies that provide encryption and anti-malware technologies will continue to see their fortunes rise because the demand will continue to grow. But to thrive, these vendors must bring out new products and services evolved for cloud computing.

Anti-malware evolves and grows

Let’s take the case of anti-malware vendors that have traditionally served on-premise clientele. As more companies move to off-premise solutions — the cloud — so, too, will the attacks of nefarious hackers and others intent on stealing or compromising your company’s data. For anti-malware vendors, the new year brings a huge opportunity to update and create new solutions tailored to the cloud.

The good news is these are essentially the same types of services that analyze data traffic for malware, but designed for the cloud. It still won’t be easy; there are some technical hurdles, like figuring out how the anti-malware solution gets inserted into a cloud system to which it doesn’t necessarily have access. Still, I think the top-shelf anti-malware vendors will be hugely motivated to attack this problem with gusto, and will figure it out.

Of course, Amazon and other cloud providers will continue to enhance their security, but dealing with the many and evolving strains of malware is not their core competency. Instead, I think they will be more inclined to work with, or at least make it easier for, established security vendors to deploy their solutions onto cloud platforms. Expect to see more APIs and frameworks from cloud providers that allow for more seamless integration of third-party anti-malware.

Firewalls have nowhere to go

While anti-malware vendors have new opportunities, the same can’t be said for traditional firewall vendors. The reason is that access control (a core firewall feature) is being commoditized.

We will see a much larger percentage of enterprise workloads moving to the cloud in 2016.

Firewalls are typically used for access control to determine who can talk to what over which protocol. They’ve also been very IP-centric. Over time, firewall vendors have added application awareness, as well as protocol and packet inspection. The cloud doesn’t change the need for these advanced functions, but often the core access control is embedded in the cloud provider’s system, and I don’t see firewall vendors being able to subvert or co-exist with what’s already there.

Also, access control is already being built in to cloud providers’ hypervisors and tied to provisioning of individual compute instances. Amazon’s Security Groups is just such an example.

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