Cloud Computing: Is On-Device Encryption the Future?

Posted on February 11, 2014

For 21 years, David Cowan has invested for Bessemer Venture Partners, a global venture capital firm that has funded cloud companies such as Box, Eloqua and LinkedIn. Recently, he took to LinkedIn to offer his opinion on the future of cloud computing ? a future that he says will rely on encryption.

He's not the only expert to take that view. In fact, analysts like IDC Vice President Holly Muscolino, Gartner analyst Eric Ouellet, and Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst James Staten have been saying the same thing for several years. Staten wrote on his blog in December 2013 that,"In 2013 enterprises got real about cloud computing. In 2014 we will integrate it into our existing IT portfolios - whether IT likes it or not." Then he added that thanks to the NSA, "One of the top trending inquiry topics hitting our cloud and security analysts lately are about cloud encryption solutions."

While different companies and analysts take different approaches to the subject of encrypting data for cloud computing, Forrester, Gartner, and IDC all agree on two things. For encryption to be useful and practical for business customers, it has to be simple, and it has to be automatic. "If you make it too hard for end users, or you make it too time consuming, you create a situation in which people will bypass IT rules in the name of efficiency," Gartner's Ouellet told an audience at a recent Gartner Symposium.

On-Device Encryption is Mobile's Holy Grail

Cloud computing often goes hand-in-hand with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in the enterprise, because mobile users tend to be early adopters of public cloud storage platforms. In fact, CDW's 2013 State of the Cloud Report says that 73% of mobile device users are linked to 2 or more cloud storage sites, often via applications that are pre-installed on their devices and store data, images, or information in the cloud without any action on the part of the user.

The report also says that BYOD has been a driving force in corporate acceptance of cloud storage that is outside the company's control. "An organization's decision to move IT to the cloud is daunting because it is a wholesale change in sourcing and delivery of solutions. The decision is often influenced by the growth of bring your own device policies, the consumerization of IT and ever-closer ties between technology delivery and business outcomes."

On-device encryption is considered the Holy Grail of mobile security for the simple reason that it's the only mobile security solution that protects sensitive company information when it's at rest (being stored on the mobile device) as well as when it is being transferred to another device (such as a printer).

Data that isn't encrypted on the mobile device where it is stored is subject to man-in-the-middle attacks when it is "in transit" between the mobile device and the printer or another device. Direct WIFI-only solutions require the mobile device to be on the same network as the printer, and don't meet employees' need for printing "on the go", when they are away from the office.

On-device encryption is especially important for companies in highly regulated industries such as insurance, banking, financial services, health care, education, or pharmaceuticals which are subject to FINRA and HIPAA compliance standards. Breezy is the only mobile print provider that ensures compliance by securing data on any mobile device ? iPhone, iPad, Android tablet or smartphone, or BlackBerry device ? with military-grade encryption before transferring the encrypted files safely via SSL to any approved printer or print network.

More Cloud-Connected Devices than People

Cisco's 2013 Global Mobile Traffic Index reported that by the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2018 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita. There will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2018, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules-exceeding the world's population at that time (7.6 billion).

Jared Hansen, CEO and founder of Breezy, says that as the number of mobile devices connected to the cloud increases, the need for secure mobile printing increases as well. "Our customers tell us that they are expecting double-digit increases in the number of pages printed from mobile devices this year. And that means that more company data is at risk of man-in-the-middle attacks unless the data is encrypted on the device."

"CIOs know that they can't stop employees from using cloud storage services like iCloud, Google, or Box. The harder it is for employees to print from mobile devices, the more likely they are to use an unsecured cloud storage system to send files from a mobile device to a computer that allows printing. On-device encryption is the best way to secure that data before it enters the cloud ? and when you combine on-device encryption with an easy-to-use and manage secure mobile printing solution, you solve multiple problems," Hansen adds.

For more information on secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, or download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook from Breezy.

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