The Cloud is the New 'Third Place', but Security Needs to Keep Pace

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Society is continually recognizing the need for ‘third places’, which are neutral, welcoming and accessible spots in our lives that are separate from the stresses of work but also detached from our lives at home. 

Research suggests that having such a place that allows us to shrug off our daily personas, explore our identity and share our thoughts with others has significant beneficial effects on our happiness and wellbeing.

Whereas these ‘third places’ have traditionally come in the shapes of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, as JR Reagan, global CISO at Deloitte, discussed in his keynote presentation at the Cloud Security Expo in London, in today’s ever-connected world they now present themselves on the internet as cloud-based ‘third spaces’.

“One of the most exciting online places to emerge recently is the cloud. Once merely a repository where business documents too bulky for email could be stored and shared, the cloud is evolving into its own gathering spot where people from around the world drop in, partake in materials found there, add their own documents and media, exchange questions, comments and ideas.”

As an example, Reagan referred to the cloud as the “new artist’s tool” where filmmakers, writers and musicians from all over the world are collaborating online to create a real-time, creative hub which is accessible 24 hours a day. 

It’s clear that in the 21st century we rely greatly on online and cloud resources to remain social, learn new things and share our skills. I, for one, cannot remember the last time a day went by that I didn’t glance through Twitter or Facebook, nor can I recall a day I didn’t need to access file sharing sites like Dropbox. The possibilities the cloud brings really are limitless, with the potential to benefit society and even enhance evolution through rapid collective learning. 

However, it’s important to remember that for the cloud to truly be successful at serving as a virtual 'third space', emphasis needs to be placed on making sure its security is up to standard. 

“Third spaces also need to be secure,” Reagan said. “When you think about it, people tend not to gather in places where they don’t feel safe. Few of us would frequent a tavern or coffee shop in a building where the roof was caving in; by the same token, for the cloud to function as a third space, people have to go there and feel good about posting their private ideas.”

So, if people don’t feel confident that what they share and post in the cloud is going to be kept safe from malicious interference, surely this would significantly inhibit how well it can really serve as an all-sharing, accessible and welcoming 'third space'.

It’s no great secret that the security of cloud-based services and products is currently lacking, so it’s clear that if we are going to really reap its benefits the cybersecurity industry has to come together to improve security on the cloud, otherwise we could risk missing out on its true potential as a global 'third space'.

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