Over the past few months, most public cloud providers and their counterparts have doubled down on security. Recently, Google pushed multiple new security enhancements to augment its already secure ecosystem. The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has come a long way in assuaging privacy and security concerns. However, the kicker with GGP remains—you must be within the Google ecosystem. If not, you are on your own (which is not always a bad thing). One of the most exciting components of Google’s strategy is its stance that security starts from the chip level and ends up with the Chrome browser. Google’s approach is divergent from what many public cloud providers offer as point solutions in a sea of security diversity and methods. What Google lacks in its IoT and endpoint security in a distributed environment, it makes up for with a centralized cloud infrastructure that has tremendous capabilities.
One of Google’s key criticisms is how it upholds the privacy of its users, both enterprise and consumer. GCP has done an excellent job of alleviating many of its privacy challenges and concerns. In a recent conversation I had with the Google team, they demonstrated their commitment to providing secure enterprise solutions and applications while protecting the privacy of their users. I was especially impressed with their focus on not just a single-point solution, but an ecosystem that encompasses a chip to browser security approach. Although many users are suspicious of Google’s approach, it is one of the most secure ecosystems (not to mention the functionality of applications) in the industry today.
Cloud-based surveillance and information is the new business model
For the past 30+ years, we have trusted companies to make our lives more productive while they use our data to learn about what we want as consumers. Now, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others are using data and algorithms to predict what we as consumers think we desire. From a security perspective, it is essential to understand how these companies are using our personal information. The bottom line is these companies are in the surveillance business. If Facebook or Twitter were a CIA or NSA project, it would be the most successful intelligence operation in history. How else would you get unwitting people to input who their friends are, their political leanings, which religion they belong to, where they work, and what they do in their spare time?
Further, most users allow these organizations to track and provide data to external businesses and organizations that want to buy information from our computers, cellphones and other devices solely for the price of convenience. In my last article, I mentioned that we believe over 5,000 companies have access to your information just by turning on your smartphone. Sadly, we, as a society, are happy to sacrifice convenience and information at the cost of security and privacy.
On the flip side, control of information versus the “common good”
Unfortunately, and in my opinion, one of the byproducts of our willingness to sacrifice privacy for security is allowing social media companies to influence the narrative. The current COVID-19 pandemic has showed us what lengths these companies will go to control speech and dissent, all for the “common good” or whoever sets the narrative du jour. The amount of information we provide to these companies should be tantamount to our ability to express our viewpoints and opinions. Sadly, most social media platforms disagree. However, Google has quietly been focusing on putting a platform that provides functionality, security, privacy and an ecosystem back into the hands of the consumer. I am okay with the balance Google strikes from a privacy and functionality perspective—it just works, but it’s up to the user to understand the tradeoffs. Stay safe and secure my friends.