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Canada has a unique opportunity to present itself to the world as a ‘safe harbour’ for Cloud data hosting, safe from risks such as the USA’s Patriot Act – To establish a brand where data hosted here has a kitemark that states ‘Protected By Canadian Cloud Security‘.

As a non-Canadian and also a long-time veteran of the Cloud industry, I have a very objective and keen insight  the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian Cloud industry, with regards to the goals of this initiative: Making Canada a global leader in the field.

The key strength is the trustworthy national ‘brand’.

Stereotypical sure, but the ideal of the mountie is what the rest of the world perceives Canada to represent: Integrity, security, safety, dilligence.

A Canadian Mountie and a Maine State Trooper i...

Image via Wikipedia

So when this is then combined with the other key attribute, inventiveness, and the fact that a number of startups throughout Canada are pioneering the technologies required to secure Cloud data systems, this is a hugely potent mix that can truly underpin a global expansion plan.

The world is poised for the largest IT market ever seen, the transition of legacy systems to the Cloud, currently held back only by the perceived information security risks of hosting data externally – Especially so if this means outside of the customers home country, and even more so if it means hosting in the USA, where the dreaded Patriot Act will have them snooping through your data faster than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism.

The weakness for Canada is the same one every one already talks about, the lack of a commercialization system to fund and expand these terrific opportunities. There are lots of small startups with tremendous potential but acting alone with no critical mass to ‘cross the chasm’.

The Canadian Cloud Security Portfolio

Therefore one key step to take is aggregation, to have them join forces in a concentrated group that as a whole has more commercial punch and better chances of funding.

A Canadian Cloud Security Portfolio.

More importantly the fusion drives a strong solutioning focus – No single technology solves the whole problem, but when combined they do. This is especially so when factoring in other Canadian assets, most notably those of the Canadian Government.

Although there are many reports of a lack of Venture Capital to fund Canadian startups, it’s key to note that the taxpayers have already paid for the development of a number of intellectual property assets that can underpin the hyper-growth of new businesses.

Most notably there is the recently published ‘Cloud Security Zones’ document published by the Federal Government called ‘IT Shared Services Security Domain & Zones Architecture‘. This document specifies the security-centric design blueprints for implementing ‘Community Cloud‘ scenarios, delivered either in-house by the Shared Services department, or outsourced to a an external third-party Cloud provider.

The best practices include defining these Cloud Security Zones, like a PAZ: Public Access Zone, RZ: Restricted Zone, PZ: Public Zone and OZ: Operations Zone. These provide the parameters for configuring Cloud environments to reflect the appropriate authorization models for who can access what systems.

Cloud Privacy by Design

Furthermore other experts then define the more granular level permissions control systems for tackling the #1 Cloud topic : Data Privacy.

Ann Cavoukian, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, has defined best practices in this area called ‘Privacy By Design‘.

Specifically in her white paper ‘Modelling Cloud Computing Architecture Without Comprising Privacy‘ (26-page PDF), she maps traditional privacy practices on to the new field of Cloud Computing.

Ann describes a “Privacy-Preserving Architecture for Data Outsourcing”, one that leverages a ‘Federated Identity‘ architecture to achieve a very granular, user-centric control of data access within Cloud environments.

On their own these practices have no real value, but when combined with technologies that can implement them, they are a hugely powerful combination. This highlights the opportunity for Canada, because local startups offer these technologies, such as:

  • Dark Matter Labs – Based out of Victoria, BC, Dark Matter offers the core encryption and features like scalable key management that Ann describes as essential to achieving Cloud Privacy.
  • Esotera – Leveraging this encryption, Newfoundland-based startup Esotera offers a distributed Cloud storage service that can therefore store records in the Cloud in a Government-compliant secure manner. We described how this could meet the needs of the EU in our earlier press release.
  • Identity Encapsulated Cryptology – As I introduced on a sister blog, another Canadian inventor is defining a key best practice for meshing all these systems together, called ‘Identity Encapsulated Cryptology‘.

Cloud Security is achieved through a combination of best practices to design the operations framework and then technologies to implement them, so the fact that Canada has the whole mix in the form of Government-developed best practices that contextualize Canadian startups, is the key to unlocking their role as global experts in Cloud Security.

As this will become one of the worlds largest IT markets, it’s therefore the key to their economic and innovation success too.

Providers throughout the world will be able to boast their services are ‘Protected By Canadian Cloud Security‘.

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