Literature Review Chapter: Cloud Computing and the Insider Threats' Problems

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Cloud Computing and the Insider Threats' Problems

The adoption of cloud computing by several organizations in the recent past has led to a significant paradigm shift as far as information complexes in the organization are concerned. Worth noting is the fact that cloud computing offers several risk factors, some of which are because of insider conspiracy. This section integrates what has been researched in the past regarding this issue and the various possibilities of averting these threats within the cloud computing environment to make it a worthwhile venture for organizations (Himmel, 2012). This review in literature offers information on what has been done in the past and explores the thoughts of various scholars, which may prove useful in charting the way forward for this project. Several scholars have come up with concepts and ideas that are significant in addressing of the challenge of insider threats within the cloud computing environment.

Before the adoption of cloud computing as a mode of operation in a business environment, it is important for any given organization to be well versed with a number of facts regarding the same (Omondi, 2012). An analysis of factors including security is paramount in such a decision. When adopting any technology, it is important to assess its usefulness to users based on a number of factors. First, the organization's perspectives and stands regarding security are significant in the decision of embracing cloud computing. This is just in the same way the decision of a manager on cost effectiveness, and IT compliance affects the decision of the organization to adopt any given technology.

Many business enterprises have a major challenge in determining the best platform on which to conduct their businesses because there are many on offers. One of the chief concerns addressed in these platforms is that of security (ThankGod, 2012). In addition to the computing power and cost saving, security and privacy are also integral factors that will determine the success of the business, and hence the need to address them. The platform applied will determine the protocol measures put in place and hence the difficulty of encountered by anyone with an intention of breaching protocol in the system.

The essential significance of this analysis in this study is the fact that all these three factors are intertwined in some way. Enhancing security in the cloud computing environment will be able to improve its cost effectiveness and IT compliance in a way, and it still depends on how well the other factors are considered (Omondi, 2012). Therefore, cloud computing providers should assess the cost-effectiveness and security concerns of the service collectively and wholesomely ensure that it is IT compliant in order to assure their clients, hence enhancing the adoption of the technology. Therefore, it is necessary to include the security threats posed by insiders in this evaluation in order to boost the confidence levels of clients concerning this venture (Omondi, 2012).

For a very long time, most of the feared attacks in the IT field have been synonymous with outsiders. This has been in oblivion with the potential threat posed by insiders within the organization itself. A lot is spent working against external forces that may threaten data integrity and privacy while much is eating organizations right from their hearts. In consideration of cloud computing environment, which is dynamic in nature, measures should be factored in, which are able to combat breaches in protocol, both from within and outside the organization. Elaborate techniques must be instituted to monitor employee behavior and examine why certain behaviors suffice among the employees. This could act as a good starting point in the avoidance of threats offered by insiders within the cloud computing environment.

The task of maintaining, governing, and managing cloud computing lies solely in the hands of site administrators. Consequently, these are the individuals chiefly concerned with the management of data and information and the organization's sensitive resources. In the event of fallout in the relationship between the company's employees and the management, it is possible for administrators to use malicious means, leaking out privileged information, putting the organization at stake (Wayne, 2012). Avoiding such a situation will require the breaking of protocols and clearance in all levels of engagement, limiting the risks to either the organization, or the provider.

The other insider threat within organizations appertains to the tech-savvy employees that are well versed with the general loopholes in the organization's security. It is common to find such individuals hacking their way into privileged information just for fun or seeking attention. Various people are interested in the sale of confidential data to the highest bidder (Wayne, 2012). This requires organizations to incorporate the sealing of security vulnerabilities detecting such insiders before causing damage achieved in instituting proper vetting exercise for the organization's employees.

Organizations are bound to experience challenges, and essentially the reaction of individual employees will be diverse. In most instances, some opt for revenge, of which cloud applications and functions are usually a major target. In this case, the insiders do not necessarily do the security breach directly, but by outsiders collaborating with the insiders.

In many instances, insiders with ulterior motives will take advantage of customers' lack of knowledge regarding provider policies and procedures to execute their mischievous acts. On several occasions, transparency has not existed regarding policy compliance and employee monitoring among other mandatory policies (Letort, 2012). This puts the assets of the organization and its private information at the disposal of the malicious insiders. In this regard, companies and organizations must take this concern seriously if they are to avoid brand damage and maintain their productivity levels. The most vulnerable cases of insider threats in cloud computing are the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS platforms of operation (Bernard, 2011).

Another major problem that is evident as an insider threat in cloud computing regards the notion taken by many organizations that cloud applications are stand-alone applications. Such a notion leads to poor internal enforcement such that the cloud is left to regulate and manage itself. The organization, out of ignorance and incompetence puts no effort in the management of cloud applications, causing vulnerability within the organization's cloud applications (Wayne, 2012). This makes it an easy task for attackers and insiders to hack into these systems, owing to non-streamlined responsibility.

According to Letort (2012), out of the four identified elements affecting the level of F/OSS cloud computing projects, only the team size and experience affected project success most. In this sense, all the elements affect project success only that team size bears more significance. This essentially means that the organization needs to work more to improve the dedication and commitment of its team. In relation to this study, this factor is a great determinant of the level of the threat posed to the organization by the insiders. It would be beneficial for all organizations to have a big task force. However, this possesses the greater challenge of the increase in probability of insiders with an ulterior motive. This requires organization and the maintenance team to come up with substantive strategies that will minimize the possibility of the otherwise good team being a threat to the organization.

Himmel (2012) analyzes the risks of cloud computing based on three conceptual fabrics, putting into consideration risks to security, business, and compliance. The study offers a plausible means to guide IT staff in the process of adopting cloud computing. From the research, for instance, it was quite evident that different workloads are a great determinant of the financial success of cloud computing environment. The author also delved into the comparison of the risks associated with traditional IT and those associated with cloud computing. Despite the fact that traditional IT had some unique risks compared to those of cloud computing, it is evident that some risks are shared across the board. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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