Is fog computing the next step in off-site data storage?

Is the industry moving on from cloud computing?

Italian computer scientists have developed a new form of data storage – fog computing. What is it, and is fog the new cloud?

Two ace operatives bounce around from safehouse to safehouse, never staying in one place long enough to be detected by enemy agents. When they’re needed, their handler sends a message, and they emerge from the shadows ready for action.


This isn’t just the plot of countless spy thrillers; it’s an emerging method for secure, cloud-based data storage – fog computing.



What is fog computing?


Like cloud computing, fog computing is a means for outsourced data – providing a scalable method of storage that does not require additional costly IT infrastructure. The main difference between the two is where the data is actually housed.


In cloud computing, it rests in secure data warehouses – covered by security systems and protocols established in conjunction with the service provider. Fog computing, on the other hand, doesn’t leave files in one location. Like the spies we talked about earlier, it is spread around different servers and constantly in motion. In theory, this means it is never in one location in a complete form, so hackers cannot gain access to it in a cyberattack.


The data is marked with a tracker. When owners need to access their information, they simply activate the tracker and bring in the data. Once they’re finished with it, the data goes back to travelling between servers.





This system, first announced in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, was developed by Rosario Culmone and Maria Concetta De Vivo from the University of Camerino in Italy.


“Our proposal is based on this idea of a service which renders information completely immaterial in the sense that, for a given period of time, there is no place on earth that contains information complete in its entirety,” the team says, as reported by Science Daily.



Is it secure?


It’s too early to say for certain whether fog computing is more secure than cloud computing, but it does address a key vulnerability: a physical location, which presents hackers with a tantilising target.


The fog computing method proposed by Culmone and De Vivo would effectively guard against intrusion attempts that aim to breach servers in a specific location.


Fog computing mitigates the risk of breaches by moving data from server to server.Fog computing mitigates the risk of breaches by moving data from server to server.



The issue of data security is a major consideration for any business considering or using the cloud. According to IDG Enterprise’s 2016 Cloud Computing survey, it’s one of the top three concerns in public (41 per cent), private (21 per cent) and hybrid cloud systems.


Though fog computing does offer this extra security, it’s far too early to say there’s no risk of cyberintrusion. As security professionals, white-hat hackers and cybercriminals have more time to test out the method, it is likely they will find exploitable vulnerabilities. Can components of data packages be intercepted while in transit? Can the trackers attached to the data be compromised? We simply don’t know just yet.



What does this mean for the cloud?


Technavio forecasts compound annual growth of 60.67 per cent to 2021 for fog computing.

This is a brand-new technology, so it is a bit early to say for certain whether fog computing will overtake the cloud, pose a suitable alternative or even just fade into obscurity. For the time being, cloud computing isn’t going anywhere.


More importantly, the establishment of a cloud computing alternative is rooted in the assumption that the cloud is not secure, nor can it be adequately safeguarded. These arguments simply aren’t true.


Of course, there is no such thing as a hack-proof system, but data centres and cloud providers have a number of tools and methods at their disposal to guard against intrusions. A cloud system run through a company’s private network, for instance, provides a strong safeguard against attacks. After all, cybercriminals can’t access the system through the internet if it isn’t run over the internet.



To learn more about secure cloud computing solutions, get in touch with Telarus today.

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