Office Workspace - Workplace

Creating the New Workspace: Understanding “Confidential Computing”

Any discussion about what your company workspace will look like going forward will invariably bring up the "S" word:
Security ... Data Security.

When you're finished reading here, you will have an overview of what data security means to your firm's workplace (office) and workspace (environment) and be able to recognize a few acronyms that vendors and associates may toss by you in conversation.

Why Is Data So Important?

Data is the thread that stitches office, home, and mobile workplaces into a unified workspace. Without a secure data environment, there is little assurance you can give your clients (or yourself) that the work your company does is confidential and proprietary.

Unless you plan on keeping your business and staff sequestered in the office pod of the 90’s, it behooves you to understand “confidential computing” so you can use it to plan and incorporate it into your office workspace.

The Basics of Data Protection

A recent article by Fahmida Y. Rashid, Senior Managing Editor at Decipher, an information security website, provides an easy-to-comprehend explanation of the issues.

[There are] three pillars of data security [...] protecting data at rest, in transit, and in use. Protecting data at rest means using methods such as encryption or tokenization so that even if data is copied from a server or database, a thief can’t access the information. Protecting data in transit means making sure unauthorized parties can’t see information as it moves between servers and applications. ... Protecting data while in use, though, is especially tough because applications need to have data in the clear—not encrypted or otherwise protected—in order to compute. But that means malware can dump the contents of memory to steal information. It doesn't really matter if the data was encrypted on a server's hard drive if it's stolen while exposed in memory.

Protecting data while in use is tough enough on the office LAN; add in remote and mobile users and it becomes a nightmare. Who knows what data hygiene your employees practice on their own in Teams, G Suite (now Google Workspace), or any collaborative cloud outside your office while working with your sensitive data?

The Push for Tech's New Security Model

The major tech companies know that off-site, cloud workspace data risks have to be on par with on-premises, lan workplace. That is why we see tech giants like AMD, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle evangelize a new security model they're calling confidential computing.

Rashid's article explains this effort to keep data safe in all its forms.

Confidential computing uses hardware-based techniques to isolate data, specific functions, or an entire application from the operating system
[…] Data is stored in the trusted execution environment (TEE), where it’s impossible to view the data or operations performed on it from outside [. . .] The TEE ensures that only authorized code can access the data. If the code is altered or tampered with, the TEE denies the operation.

Beta offerings are already in coming to market. Google Cloud is offering a Confidential Virtual Machines as part of their "Compute Engine product. Published pricing for the Beta service starts at $4 per month and about 54 cents a GB, per month.

Your Takeaway for Workspace Decisions

Now when planning and managing your firm’s workspace, you have a new calculus. Content security is no longer purchased in square feet. Confidential computing technology and its trusted execution environment (TEE) is positioned to protect your privileged and proprietary work beyond the office to all your workspaces—office, home, or mobile.

It is now a measure of the costs and benefits of physical workplace against a dispersed workspace and a decision of the mix that's appropriate for your firm.

More than just office space, MCRE is enterprise-caliber resources—scaled to you. Make decisions and navigate the new workspace/workplace reality with confidence.