Step aside cloud computing, 'fog computing' is here

Cloud computing – performing tasks on external servers and sending the results back to your machine – is rather popular, it's safe to say. 

Going all the way back to the 1970s, firms have relied on remotely located computing clusters to solve hardware-intensive problems. Today, it's the dominant way of doing business for many companies. 

But there's a problem. While hosting computer power on a remote server is handy, it's kind of a security risk; if that server is compromised, then the data of thousands – even millions – of users can be exposed in one fell swoop.

Endlessly relocate

So computer scientists at the University of Camerino have developed a new concept that spreads data across many servers, with no single location. It uses virtual buffers to endlessly relocate data packets without a file ever being complete in one place. They're calling it 'fog computing'.

"Our proposal is based on this idea of a service which renders information completely immaterial in the sense that for a given period of time there is no place on earth that contains information complete in its entirety," said Rosario Culmone and Maria Concetta De Vivo, who developed the concept. 

"We want to realise a fog of files rather than a cloud."

Never delivered

They compare the system to a letter with a secure tracking device that gets sent continuously between different post offices and is never delivered. It would be hard for a thief to find it, but when you need it again you simply activate the tracking device, and it can then be easily located.

"The inaccessibility by others, the non-location, and the dynamics of the system offer significant advantages in terms of security, but raise some legal problems.” the pair said.

The full details of Culmone and De Vivo's "fog computing" system were published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.