LONDON — In the dead of night, two Navy SEALs and a former military officer glide toward a U.S. military facility, water lapping quietly against the side of their canoe. Suddenly two navy boats gun their motors as they pass the trio, but they fail to spot the group attempting to break into the secure facility.
This is the kind of operation the former officer, Brian Kelly, handled for a few years as a special ops consultant for the U.S. government, to identify gaps in security. (In fact, no one spotted him that night in 2014, and he was able to penetrate the facility, resulting in the firing of a soldier found asleep on the job.) The skill set landed him just a few months later at cloud computing company Rackspace as its chief security officer, using his stealth and smarts to protect the data of the firm’s 300,000 customers.
Now he’s facing unprecedented attacks on an entirely new battlefront: the cloud.
A recent report says 87 percent of organizations are making use of cloud infrastructure while research firm IDC is predicting cloud infrastructure spending will rise to more than $33 billion in 2015, accounting for a third of all information technology spending. As evidenced by the Dell-EMC megamerger this week, the future of computing is in the cloud, and everyone knows it — especially the hackers.
According to Alert Logic’s Cloud Security Report 2015, cyberattacks against cloud systems increased by as much as 45 percent in 2014 while attacks against on-premises infrastructure remained flat. With the huge rise in cloud adoption, together with the ever-decreasing cost of deploying applications and services in the cloud — Amazon alone has dropped the prices of its Amazon Web Services offering nearly 50 times since 2006 — hackers now have a much larger surface to probe for access to sensitive data.