Top 5 Advantages of the Confidential Cloud
The Cloud has revolutionized the way organizations and consumers interact with technology. It provides a cost-effective way to store information while also increasing accessibility and removing hardware requirements from the end users.
Organizations no longer need to host large local servers and invest massive sums of money into computer hardware. They can simply purchase what they need without having to worry about maintenance or management. The Cloud has now been adopted into numerous industries and is in widespread use across the world.
While the accessibility the Cloud provides can be extremely beneficial and serves to make life much easier, it also increases vulnerability to data breaches and theft. Large Cloud providers invest a lot of money in security and encryption, but that does not necessarily mean the data is untouchable.
Data can be encrypted through the use of VPNs and other services, which protects the data during transfer. Data can also be encrypted while being stored on a hard drive. This means that data is typically well protected during transport and storage. However, what happens during processing? In order for computers and servers to process information, it has to be decrypted. Unfortunately, this leaves a vulnerability in even the most secure servers, and in a time where data theft is rampant, it is a hole that needs to be plugged. In fact, data breaches are responsible for exposing over 36 billion records in 2020 alone, and that is only in the first half of the year. (Source)
That is where confidential computing comes in. The technology works by creating an isolated “enclave” within the CPU. This enclave houses all the required data and techniques needed to process it. While the data is within this enclave, only authorized programming code has access to it. It remains completely hidden from any other programs or users, including the cloud provider themselves.
Confidential computing fills the gap so that important information can be protected throughout the entire life cycle of use. Whether the data is in transit, at rest, or being used/processed, it will remain secure and protected from malicious actors, partners, and even internal/insider threats. So, what kind of advantages does confidential computing offer Cloud users?
1. Complete Protection
One of the biggest and most obvious advantages is that the data is protected throughout its lifecycle. Cloud providers have adopted pretty stringent security standards when it comes to protecting at-rest data. Servers have multiple layers of security to get through as well as encrypting the stored data itself.
The transfer of data can be protected through encryption software as well as secure tunnels and protocols to and from the cloud provider. In a confidential cloud the processes and data can be protected from snoopers and any other possible prying eyes. This new technology can provide organizations with the confidence they need to move more sensitive information to the cloud knowing that it will remain safe and secure, even from the cloud provider itself.
2. Better Protection Against Third-Parties
One of the issues many organizations have when considering a move to the cloud is not knowing who will have access to their data. The confidential cloud ensures that no one but the client has access to the encrypted data even while it’s being used. Organizations no longer have to worry about the possibility of a third-party gaining access through the cloud provider.
The enclaves completely isolate the data to ensure that the user retains complete security. This prevents cloud providers from being put into compromising positions through subpoenas or strongarming as they themselves cannot access the information.
3. Secure Collaboration
One of the many strengths of the Cloud is the ability to provide access to users from all over the world. This has strengthened collaboration between companies and partners but has also been a point of contention when discussing security. Confidential computing allows partnerships to continue and grow through collaboration and shared data by protecting sensitive or confidential information.
Organizations can keep certain information secure and out of reach of partners with the use of enclaves while still allowing them access to the many facets they may need to complete their work. This is an extremely effective tool when collaborating with another company and handling sensitive information.
4. Fully Protects All Intellectual Property
Confidential computing is not simply a data protection tool. It can be used to secure a wide number of things including machine learning algorithms, proprietary business logic, and even programs and applications. Using confidential computing ensures that business and trade secrets remain as secure as possible, even when in use on the cloud.
5. Advanced Hardware-based Protection
While most encryption is done on the software side of things, confidential computing is done through the use of hardware. Both Intel and AMD processors incorporate specific technology to utilize confidential computing. Intel utilizes technology labeled SGX or Software Guard Extensions, while AMD’s new EPYC line of processors utilize SEV-SNP, a technology that extends confidential computing to virtual machines.
Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging (SEV-SNP) is the newest release in confidential computing technology and has enabled Azure to become the first major cloud provider to offer confidential virtual machines.
Microsoft has always been a leader in security and is one of the founding members of the Confidential Computing Consortium, which is responsible for the development of confidential computing. This has given them a strong foundation in an industry highly dependent on security and protection and the SEV-SNP collaboration with AMD solidifies that.
The Confidential Future of the Cloud
With new developments like AMDs SEV-SNP, the cloud has never been more secure. Large cloud providers like Azure and AWS understand how important security is to their clients and consistently push the standards of what is to be expected. Confidential computing ensures that information and data remains private and protected even during use. Incorporating this kind of technology into Cloud infrastructure serves to provide an even more secure and safe environment for organizations of all kinds to use and benefit from.
Getting setup on the Cloud can be a considerable undertaking which is why cloud experts, like Outsource IT, have had much success in assisting organizations of all sizes relocate much of their data. With the help of professionals, organizations can rest assured their data and information will remain secure and confidential. Contact an Outsource IT account manager to learn more.