Can the Cloud Prevent Insider Threats? Some Say Yes

The cloud is a lot of things.

Is it also a cyber security tool? Maybe so.

Rep. Darrell Issa made an interesting observation this week at the Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group’s discussion about cloud computing and cyber security.

Because the National Security Agency – like so many other Federal agencies – still relies in part on legacy systems, it made itself more vulnerable to an insider attack, said the co-chair of the Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus.

The inference – storing data in the cloud likely could have prevented Edward Snowden from poaching top secret records from the NSA.

We’ll never know if the congressman’s statement is true, but it certainly speaks to the confidence Rep. Issa has in the cloud, which he referred to as a game changer.

He’s not alone.

A panel of speakers who followed Rep. Issa at the Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group’s packed-house meeting on the Hill agreed cloud computing provides agencies many benefits, including security.

Defense Department Acting CIO Terry Halvorsen and National Security Agency CTO Patrick Dowd each said their move to the cloud has resulted in significant financial savings.

Cloud computing also provides operational benefits, said NIST Deputy Division Chief of Computer Security Matthew Scholl, and helps companies stay competitive. He described the cloud as an “undeniable force” in business, but said that in the Federal government concerns remain about whether moving to the cloud will affect an agency’s agility.

The panelists said moving to the cloud can improve compute capabilities, but that every agency has to figure out on its own whether cloud helps them fulfill their business mission while providing the same level of service. Even though they threw that word of caution out there, the panelists also gave cloud a thumbs-up on all counts.

Agencies should understand that while moving to the cloud represents a big cultural change because people like to have their data next to them, cloud computing is “not that different and they’ll still have access to their data,” said Halvorsen, who attended the Advisory Group’s meeting on his final day as Navy CIO before taking over as DOD CIO.

So the cloud saves money, doesn’t hinder computing, and might prevent an insider attack. These guys delivered quite an endorsement of cloud computing. So let us know – is your agency moving to the cloud? Is it moving fast enough? What are the hurdles?

The Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group will hold its next meeting in September. Keep up with them and register for the next event here


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Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. In the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.