Royal Holloway university, as a member of a consortium led by technology company Thinking Safe Limited and including design company Wax RDC, has won funding from the Technology Strategy Board's 'Innovating in the Cloud' competition, for a project to make information storage more secure for people using cloud computing.
Cloud computing delivers computer resources as a service over the internet. Rather than buying computer equipment themselves, users are able to reduce costs by entrusting remote servers with their data and software.
Together with the cloud computing company ThinkingSafe, the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway will look at ways of ensuring this data is confidential and secure, while remaining available to the user. The company expects that the project will create a blueprint for data protection in the cloud and, as a result, allow the UK to become a major exporter of cloud services.
Allan Tomlinson from the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway said: "We are delighted to contribute the expertise we have in the Group to this project, and work with ThinkingSafe, a company at the leading edge of these new technologies. This project holds important implications for the future of cloud computing, because it addresses the pressing need to create a demonstrably trustworthy framework for protecting user data in the cloud."
Crucially, researchers will also look at innovative ways of making cloud computing greener. Many organisations, including Greenpeace, have recently raised concerns about the amount of energy needed to run data centres. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency has said that US data centres use 1.5 per cent of the country's electricity and predicted that by 2020 it will account for more carbon emissions than the entire aviation industry.
The project will build on existing products and services developed by ThinkingSafe, who have been delivering cloud services for over 10 years, and are developing big data analytics to pinpoint information theft and leakage, using intelligent agents to monitor and control the flow of information within and across organisational boundaries.
Julian Dean, CEO of ThinkingSafe said: "The cloud services market is expanding by 26% per year, but there are no standards for protecting user data in the cloud, ensuring information theft and leakage is detected and prevented, and protecting personal privacy, whilst also increasing choice for the user. We are delighted to be working with the world-leading information Security Group at Royal Holloway, on a project of such national importance. "
Damien Jones, Director of Wax RDC said "The amount of user data in the world is expected to reach 660 million terabytes next year and is still growing exponentially, so the task of protecting user data in the cloud needs to address the human need for simplicity, without compromising information security or the growing desire to reduce both financial and environmental costs.