RISE ICT stories: Cloud-based services that guarantee security

The demand for cloud-based services is evolving on both national and international levels. By 2016, the turnover generated by the cloud service industry in Sweden is expected to reach 9 billion SEK. The IT industry must address critical security issues when handling critical or sensitive information to continue this growth.

In IT operations, there is a strong trend of consolidating data resources. Cloud computing, and cloud infrastructures in particular, makes it possible to streamline IT operations and save energy. However, the use of cloud computing brings with it new challenges. Third-party providers now control data that was previously controlled by one administrative domain and organization. This implies security risks must be addressed when handling business critical information or patient information, as in the VINNOVA-funded Infracloud Project, run by RISE SICS, Ericsson and Region Skåne. The demand for cloud services is growing, internationally as well nationally with a growing rate of about 22 percent. In 2011, the cloud service industry had a turnover of about 4 billion SEK in Sweden and by 2016 it is estimated to reach 9 billion SEK. One of the main obstacles to the growth of cloud services is the security issue when handling critical information.

Analyze the cloud model

Security guarantees must be given when moving systems to a cloud-based service – especially for those dealing with safety-critical information.The availability of the current system in crisis situations must also be considered. This applies to a large share of the public IT services in Sweden and especially services that deal with patient data. RISE SICS is leading a project together with Region Skåne and telecommunications company Ericsson that will analyze the cloud model. Together, they will look at how an entire computer infrastructure is offered to the customer. If this is to be a realistic option for systems dealing with safety-critical information, new technical solutions are needed, which provide guarantees for the cloud service.

Full-scale pilot test

Our aim is to develop a full-scale infrastructure cloud demonstrator. We will then attempt to verify that it is possible to reliably run a patient information system from Region Skåne.

This scheme utilizes and builds upon previous research on the verification of computer resources in public IaaS clouds. With the demonstrator, we will be able to show how a cloud can be designed to provide the necessary security to move a safety-critical IT service to a public cloud. The result will provide important information and guidance to IT professionals faced with future procurement decisions.

 

“For region Skåne it is important and of great interest to understand how we can take advantage of the technical advances that have been made in it. We need to be able to increase the quality, reliability and security of it delivery to users. Cloud services are probably a large part of that future.”

- Christian Isacsson, Region Skåne

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Project: Protection of Security Critical Information in an Infrastructure as a Service Cloud

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