Are cloud communication protocols secure?

There’s security and there’s security. While a hacker might not break the encrypted communication directly, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways.

03/02/2012


Dear Control Engineering: I was reading the article about networking protocols, and there is a statement that Skype, and by implication, other cloud technologies, are secure. Is this true?

Yes, it is if you are specific about what means exactly. Let’s digress for a moment and consider a historical parallel. Back during WWII, the German armed services used a device called an Enigma machine that encrypted messages sent by radio using Morse code. While the allies were able to intercept the radio traffic, without breaking the code, they were unable to understand the messages. So, there were enormous efforts to find ways to break the process. Those stories are fascinating and you can read them elsewhere, but successes usually came as a result of sloppy radio operators or largely brute force methods to simply try every possible key using early electro-mechanical computers.

Modern encryption is far more complex. The AES (advanced encryption standard) used with most communication on the Internet can employ a 256-bit key which would require 2200 operations to break by brute force. So it isn’t possible to decode the information by intercepting the transmission. That doesn’t mean it is secure necessarily. A determined hacker will simply find another way, and that probably means getting the message by going after one of the people that is sending or receiving. Even if the code is unbreakable, if someone breaks into my computer from outside, he or she can likely see the same information I can. My security depends on how well I protect the information once it is decoded. Using my earlier analogy, it would be like looking over the radio operator’s shoulder and seeing the message in plain text before it’s encoded.

Peter Welander, pwelander(at)cfemedia.com



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.