There’s a well-known saying that suggests ‘Information is Power’. This has proved to be increasingly true in our data centric world, where we now live in close proximity to a vast array of connected devices from laptops to tablets to smartphones.
‘Information Access is Power’
We may now need to update this quote though; information is (still) power, but even more true today is the suggestion that ‘Information Access is Power’.
So what do we mean by this statement? We know the importance of our data today better than ever as we analyse and process it through databases and software applications. But given the mobile connectivity that now exists, we need critical access to that information if we are going to be able to ‘leverage’ the value locked within.
Put simply, if we process data to improve our knowledge then we need to be able to get secure access to it from anywhere — and this is where the cloud comes in.
Cloud computing proposes to take away the burden of investing in physical hardware resources (such as heavyweight servers) to provide both storage and software down an Internet pipe as a service.
This ‘virtualisation’ of IT has an impact both within the companies that no longer need to house the physical hardware that holds their data; it also impacts the workers who must now use secure log in controls to get access.
Suddenly then we are given a single portal and a single password sign-on to centralise upon all of our computing tasks. We can sign into these services from anywhere in theory, so we see the dawn of the truly empowered ‘knowledge worker’ who has information control and dexterity at their fingertips.
Tight controls needed for new clouds
But as cloud–powered knowledge workers build this new knowledge economy; we need to keep a tight reign on single-sign-on (or SSO) technologies. We must ensure that where authentication is approved for user access, a firm can record an efficiency and a cost saving — rather than open up a security risk and a potential data loss.
As the Open Group global consortium for IT standards puts it, “Single sign-on reduces human error, a major component of systems failure and is therefore highly desirable but difficult to implement.”
These technologies are happening now, implementation and deployment is already afoot. How we control secure access to the cloud’s potential knowledge economy is what defines our next steps and whether we stay secure or not.