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SaaS vendors, customers, finding new ways to secure the cloud

Maria Korolov | Oct. 17, 2013
Rogue employees, hackers, government employees all threats to keeping information stored on the cloud private.

"It was our best quarter ever, especially in Europe but also in Asia," said company SVP Paige Leidig.

According to CEO Pravin Kothari, 2 million end users are currently using CipherCloud gateways, which provides security for many popular cloud offerings including Salesforce, Chatter, Gmail, Office 365, Amazon Web Services, and Box.net.

The way the product works is that the CipherCloud gateway provides the most-commonly used functionality needed by cloud application providers, such as searching and sorting. The data that is actually passed along to the cloud application is fully encrypted, using symmetric encryption, several orders of magnitude more secure than the asymmetic encryption typically used for Internet communications.

Customers can also choose to use tokenization to protect their data. Unlike encryption, which uses a mathematical formula to convert text, tokenization using a codebook approach, with a different randomly-generated code for each piece of information that needs to be secured. Tokenization is often used to protect Social Security or credit card numbers.

The company is rapidly adding connectors to other cloud services, but it also offers a standard tool kit that companies can use to set up access to any cloud service they wish.

"The goal of our company is to make sure that users don't see a difference," Kothari told CSO. "There is no change in the user behavior. All the operations like seraching, sorting and reporting continue to work even though the data in the cloud is fully encrypted."

What sets CipherCloud apart is the wide range of cloud services it supports, said Kothari. "The reality is that most customers are thinking beyond just a single cloud application."

A similar approach is taken by Toronto-based PerspecSys Inc., for example, with customers being able to set up their gateways to use either encryption or tokenization, or even leave some data in the clear. PerspectSys currently offers ready-to-go connectivity to Oracle CRM On Demand, Salesforce.com, Xactly Incent, Cornerstone on Demand, and Oracle Fusion. Typically, the gateway is bought and installed by the enterprise customer, but now cloud application vendors themselves are looking to offer this technology.

"We have partnerships with SaaS vendors that want to offer a premium version of their solution, and we are working with them to bake in our technology and they can offer a data secure versions to their customers," PerspectSys CEO David Canellos told CSO.

In addition, some international vendors are hosting PerspectSys gateways on behalf of customers in particular countries.

"Some countries have data residency or sovereingty laws," said Canellos. "We have many instances in the world, where people outsource the management of the perspectSys gateway to a managed service provider."

Like CipherCloud, PerspectSys also has a tool kit that allows companies to create adapters for new cloud applications.

 

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