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security in the cloud – different standards?

i was recently at a nice little conference in NYC and one of the speakers was Adam Swidler of Google (Adam’s bio via the conference host’s site). Adam spoke about cloud services and covered the topic very broadly. one of the points he addressed, which was in tune with the topic of the day, was security. a comment he made about standards stuck with me. he said that we can’t hold the cloud to different standards than we would our own infrastructure. to set the standards for what we have today, he referenced well covered stats about loss of data via laptops and USB sticks, soft internal security and other well known risks in IT today. The point was then made that holding the cloud to a better standard than that was not fair.

i’m not sure i can agree. shouldn’t we expect that someone who is claiming that they can manage huge volumes of data in a multi tenant model is going to have better security than the statistically average IT shop? we should and do expect companies like banks and credit card providers to have better security for specifically these reasons. if Google and other cloud providers hope to have the business of banks and other high risk data carrying entities in aggregate, doesn’t that hold them up to a stronger standard? i found myself thinking this was a dodge. but maybe i’m wrong. what do you think?

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