Rise in cloud computing security patents

Interest in security for cloud computing continues to rise in tandem with global demand for cloud solutions.

What is cloud computing?

If you use or have used online services such as e-mail, Google Drive, Dropbox or even Spotify, then you would have already had some form of experience with cloud computing.

In simple terms, cloud computing refers to relatively new information technology (IT) infrastructure that links several computers to a single server where users may store, organize, protect and retrieve data. With cloud computing, multiple users from different locations worldwide may access and share information stored on remote networked computers.

By utilizing the cloud, the need to purchase, update, manage and maintain hardware (such as processors, storage devices, etc.) and software is greatly reduced, thus making it much more economical for businesses, companies or organizations that rely heavily on IT infrastructure. Cloud computing also conforms to the worldwide movement for more green, sustainable, eco-friendly IT solutions as it helps save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Cloud computing security concerns

Despite its many advantages, and like any other online service, cloud computing servers are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Because data is not saved on users’ individual computers but stored and dispersed throughout networks belonging to the service provider, hacking attempts may result in serious repercussions worldwide. As a result, the accelerated growth of cloud computing services globally has seen a rise in demand for enhanced security.

According to a recent survey conducted by South Korea’s International Data Corporation (IDC), one of the greatest issues facing the IT solutions market in the year 2013 is the need to enhance overall security. For the second year in a row, close to 50% of all participants stated that the issue of security is the most important when it comes to IT solutions.

Another survey from IDC shows that 85.7% of all participants picked cloud computing security as the number one concern when it comes to adopting and using the technology. A study carried out by International Business Machines (IBM) also showed a similar pattern, with 77% of all participants being of the opinion that cloud computing security remains the IT sector that brings with it the greatest risks.

According to Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) Commissioner Ho-Won Kim, the number of patent applications in the country relating to cloud computing security has been on the rise over the last couple of years. The boom in the number of such patent applications began in 2008, where there were 5 times more applications than the year before. This trend has been tipped to continue over the next decade.

Distribution of patent applications regarding security for cloud computing by applicant type (over the last 5 years). Source: KIPO.

As for the distribution of applicant types, 7% of applications came from individuals, 15% from multinational companies, 16% from small or mid-sized enterprises, and 20% from research organizations or universities. 42% of all applications also came from foreign companies.

Patent applications seeking to enhance cloud computing security covered diverse areas including managing data centers, responding to perceived invasions, ensuring application security, managing codification and keys, managing IDs and access, virtualization, and so forth.

Based on findings by TechNavio, an international market research company, the security market for cloud computing is experiencing rapid growth at an average annual rate of 41.4% worldwide and is expected to increase from US$241 million in 2010 to US$963.4 million by 2014.

As cloud computing continues to develop throughout the global IT industry, it is becoming increasingly necessary to develop international security standards to prevent exclusive reliance on particular companies or vendors. In this regard, multinational companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have already begun to develop and distribute their own company-specific programs.

Cloud computing is also expected to evolve in the near future, advancing beyond data storage to other segments including desktop, mobile, internet protocol television (IPTV), smart TV, and even healthcare. Accordingly, steady growth is expected in the number of patent applications in relation to component technologies for new cloud services as well as related security solutions.