Authenticating access: Grant appropriate users access to cloud servers

Data protection has become an industry in and of itself, primarily due to the advancements of cloud computing over the past few years. Conventional firewalls and other traditional security measures don't make the cut when applied to cloud environments. Encryption techniques, key security protocols and authentication procedures have evolved with the new technology.

Recent developments
Some of the security programs manufactured by IT professionals aim to create a new standard for digital information protection. John Fontana, a contributor to ZDNet, reported that the OpenID Foundation recently released an authentication protocol that is being lauded for its identity-based access control over Software-as-a-Service, mobile applications and other resources. The organization fabricated a working relationship between OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0, which is capable of supporting single-sign on tasks.

The two programs work in conjunction across multiple platforms without relying on a browser, giving them the ability to connect client devices with one or multiple cloud servers. OpenID Connect's infrastructure and client base remains tenuous, but vendors such as Google and Microsoft are looking to host the solution.

It is predicted that the program's widespread implementation may incite the development of trusted identity centers across the Internet, capable of issuing character accreditations for selected sites. In theory, this process would eliminate the need for end-users to create a username and password every time they visit a website.

Taking a page from hospital IT
The scalable, flexible environments provided by cloud hosting companies remain attractive for health care facilities looking to digitize patient information. The platform could be utilized by hospital personnel in order to rapidly gain the records of treatment recipients, theoretically resulting in faster care delivery and a reduction in hourly labor costs. However, leaving such sensitive data to hover in an "open" environment has caused industry professionals to invest heavily in encryption methods.

According to Health IT Security, the risks associated with leaving patient information unencrypted don't outweigh the costs. Michael Leonard, director of product management for Iron Mountain, said that the applications and software found in the typical hospital's cloud infrastructure have the ability to encipher the data within the environment.

"When you look at many of the cloud backup or cloud archiving services, they all have encryption basically built in as part of the offering," said Leonard, as quoted by the news source. "It's pretty standard for anybody that wants to move content offsite."

The general impression among IT professionals is that more can always be done to ensure that cloud servers remain protected while making sure that their capabilities remain unhindered.

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