Data in the cloud: safe and sound

A major advantage of the cloud is that it enables organisations to keep pace with the change of a dramatically different cost model – but does that mean it makes unauthorised access easier as well? Oracle’s Vikram Singla discussed security with TM’s Ruari McCallion.

In a data-rich world, where information is more valuable than gold, security is an ever-present concern.

It was bad enough when companies kept all their information on-site in their own servers and it was possible for someone to copy and carry crucial files out of the building on a USB stick.

Through the security industry, it is now considered that migration to the cloud improves the companies’ level of security and ability to recover from major disasters.

Data is constantly under attack; some companies are subject to thousands of cyber-attacks a day. How easy is it to gain unauthorised access to valuable company information?

“There is a perception that if it isn’t under your own lock and key, then it’s vulnerable,” Vikram Singla, Product Innovation and Supply Chain Apps leader with Oracle, conceded.

He argues that the perception should change, but acknowledges there are some hurdles in understanding to be overcome.

Cloud computing offers real advantages, but the organisations must find their own practical path (complimentary, incremental or transformational) to the cloud.

“It’s not as if you don’t have information if you don’t have the cloud – you do. Rather, it’s about management of the information and who is better at it,” he explained.

Vikram Singla, business development director, Oracle.
Vikram Singla, business development director, Oracle.

“If you have a global business, your information is flowing all over the place. You may have less secure processes. We at Oracle will manage that data in a much more proactive way, because that’s our business.”

An automotive OEM will not do everything in-house, for example; they will outsource component manufacture to specialists. Oracle casts itself in that role, of a specialist provider of a vital component – in this case, data management.

“Every quarter, I conduct a session about supply chain cloud. We always spend at least an hour on security,” Singla said.

The degree of protection Oracle has in place has been compared to an onion; anyone with malicious intent would have to go through layer after layer before finding at the core – not nothing, but a load of encrypted data.

“We organise day-long workshops for companies to understand how Oracle manages the cloud, including security techniques and data privacy. These sessions highlight how other companies are adopting the cloud and the potential impact of pending changes to new EU Data Privacy regulation.

Oracle Cloud Data Security PQ April 2016“They further show multiple defences Oracle deploys such as floor-to-ceiling reinforced cages, servers and flashing lights without names on them and customers witness the levels of security we have in place.”

Nearly everyone is now happy to use online banking, or to shop online at Amazon, Waitrose or Tesco. Many companies are used to e-business, as customers and as suppliers. If it’s about confidence, then the last step is surely a small one.

“Your data is valuable – it’s the crown jewels of your company,” Singla said.

“If you were talking about your own jewellery, you would need to ensure that there is a safe deposit vault that is regularly enhanced to incorporate latest threats.

“We offer levels of security that are simply beyond the capability of even the most well-intentioned non-specialists. The Oracle Cloud has shown strong adoption, supporting 70+ million users and more than 34 billion transactions each day.”