Cloud Computing for Businesses
The aim of this article is to highlight the issues facing organizations when considering using cloud technology as part of their information strategy.
Cloud computing can lead to a lot of issues and companies need to consider the implications these can have such as;
- What happens to data if a cloud computer provider goes bust?
- What happens if a warrant is issued for everything belonging to one of your co-tenants? It depends on where that data is stored and we will look at this later. Cloud computing by its nature crosses national boundaries.
- What if my data is compromised? Do I have a backup or risk strategy?
- Who is responsible for data once it is in the cloud? You or the provider?
- Will I have 24/7 availability and access to my data?
We will look at some of these issues throughout this article.
What is Cloud Computing?
“Cloud computing is an emerging computing technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications”. (WikiInvest, 2011)
A big concern for companies planning on using cloud technology is the potential loss of ownership of data once they transfer it to the cloud. If the cloud providers are reputable then they will usually state that the customer has ownership of data. This will be stated in their privacy clauses within the contract. It is best to check the terms and conditions before you proceed.
Data Protection & Security Issues
As the Cloud Service provider has access to all your data and could potentially disclose it for unauthorized purposes this is a major concern that raises privacy and confidentiality issues.
Cloud technology is revolutionising how organizations are doing business. Organizations in every industry are embracing cloud computing as a means to lower and costs and the complexities associated with traditional IT approaches. “Organizations that approach cloud in a tactical fashion risk security exposure due to fragmentation, redundancy and operating silos.” (Managed with cloud technologies, no date)
We will look at the main data protection and security issues that organisations have to consider when using Cloud technology below;
As an organisation you are storing your data on someone else’s server and as such they have admin control over it and can view, delete, edit and access this data. Data level security businesses need to know data is protected and encrypted wherever it goes and to have their own auditing and data backup and recovery mechanisms in place.
Data Confidentiality and Privacy
Organisations rely on the cloud provider to protect their personal data and keep it confidential and private. If private information is disclosed by a third party, you may be found negligent by not protecting it sufficiently. You must ensure that if you are choosing to use a cloud provider or web host or website to host your data that the data remains your property.
Then there’s the question of availability especially if your data is mission critical – cloud services are supposed to be diverse and reliable, but this is not guaranteed. Back in August 2011 the Amazon S3 servers in Citywest were down for 48 hours (a transformer blew up) causing huge disruption as the services were moved around the globe. (Smith, 2011)
What Protections Are Available To Organisations?
- Amazon WS deployed local infra-structure to allow customers select availability zones
- Security and privacy concerns at local and government levels
- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act – offers protection against unlawful access to stored communications for businesses as it prosecutes hackers etc if found in breach of regulations.
Cloud computing is in its infancy and still needs time to develop and mature. In order to do this it needs improvements in security, privacy and governance enhancements in order to make it more attractive to and build the trust of organisations.
Supporters of cloud computing believe that EU legislation will need to be amended to enable the expansion and full implementation of cloud computing services. Changes in the law and standardisation need to take place so that the cloud can fully evolve into its true potential. Improved solutions are being put in place and hopefully the risks to sound operations will fall one by one.