To companies with massive amounts of data to store and those who want their files more easily accessible to remote users, cloud storage has a number of obvious advantages. However, it comes with its own technological and regulatory pitfalls.
If a server that stores all or most of the data for a company is compromised by way of a cyber-attack, the data of thousands, or even millions, of users may be exposed in a single stroke of bad luck or a simple gap in cyber-security protocols.
To address the issue, and as a logical next step in the development of distributed computing services, a team of researchers from Italy are now proposing another climate analogy – a technique they call “fog computing”.
Whereas, under cloud storage, files are stored on a single server, “fog computing” would distribute them over a private or public network by using virtual buffers in Internet routers to endlessly relocate data packets without a file ever being complete in one place.
This would mean that there’s no single node for hackers to attack, allowing only legitimate users (or “injectors” and “extractors”, as they are called in the paper) to access the contents.
“The trend towards outsourcing of services and data on cloud architectures has triggered a number of legal questions on how to manage jurisdiction and who has jurisdiction over data and services in the event of illegal actions,” note the authors.
By making files virtually immaterial in the sense that no discrete piece of information would be stored in any particular location, “fog computing” could potentially circumvent both the legal and security-related issues by putting the contents off-limits to anyone without privileged access.
The authors likened the technique to a latter with a tracking device but an incomplete address that gets shifted around between different post offices without ever being delivered. Once the letter is needed again, however, the rightful owner would easily locate it by following the signal from the tracker.
The full details of the proposed “fog computing” system were published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.