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NSA revelations change cloud computing priorities

Edward Snowden's disclosure of the National Security Agency's surveillance projects has transformed the way in which enterprises select cloud computing solutions. Although operability is still a top priority, increased consideration for security remains prevalent in many service level agreements. Businesses are realizing that migration to the cloud is becoming essential for them to survive in the contemporary marketplace, but that doesn't mean they're going to sacrifice data protection. 

Shifting investment 
Before Snowden's divulgence of the NSA's somewhat nefarious practices, corporations weren't hesitant to solidify contracts with overseas cloud hosting companies. Many viewed the public cloud as a viable option to store their data and distance didn't necessarily hinder adoption. Decisions were based primarily on how flexible solutions were, the deployment capabilities of cloud vendors and how easily companies would be able to interact with their digital information. 

It's not as if protection was blatantly ignored in the past, but now companies are considering it a top priority. NTT Communications assembled a study, titled "NSA Aftershocks," that queried 1,000 information and communications technology and cloud computing professionals employed by large enterprises on how the NSA's spying techniques influenced their decision-making. Approximately 92 percent of U.S. respondents claimed they are only considering SLAs with domestic hosting companies

In addition, 88 percent of CIOs and IT decision-makers are revising their procurement conditions with cloud providers. These considerations likely revolve around optimizing security services and infiltration prevention. An astounding 83 percent of respondents stated that they have audited the security credentials of prospective cloud providers. Just over four in five professionals claimed that they have been indirectly forced to reevaluate their database protection budgets. 

Shifting techniques 
This increased interest in cloud security has motivated cloud server developers to make protection an integral part of a deployment package. For many, it's become evident that conventional defensive measures are outdated in the face of flexible databases. The majority of corporate employees are accessing digital intelligence through a variety of avenues, which appropriately coincides with the prevalence of mobile devices. 

Praveen Thakur, a contributor to online magazine The Nation, claimed that that the diversification of data distribution has indirectly spawned new kinds of cyberattacks that exploit software, applications and other forms of communication. As opposed to acquiring separate defense packages to resolve disparate security issues, Thakur claimed that encompassing preventive, detective and administrative techniques onto a comprehensive solution provides enterprises with the best protection.

Cloud storage providers recognize the solidarity of such an operation and are responding to client requests by integrating holistic security systems into SLAs. However, the needs and desires of individual companies vary considerably, motivating many to adjust protection packages to better accommodate their customers. One feature that seems to be ubiquitously implemented is data and communications encryption, a technique that prevents attackers from monitoring interactions between servers and users. 

In the near future, it may not be uncommon to find managed IT service providers that exclusively provide security for cloud solutions. Such a market would bolster an already burgeoning computer science industry and boost enterprise confidence. 

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