Often the motivation for cloud computing is one of convenience. However, there is nothing convenient about the due diligence required of a new cloud user to ensure their data is safe.
Every aspect of access to the data on your own site can be easily controlled. Access to buildings, computers and data can be specified and checked. Move the same data to the cloud and the same security considerations now need to be made about the cloud provider. However, while you can check whether your own security has been compromised, the same level of certainty will not be possible once a cloud provider is looking after this for you.
Information moved to the cloud can end up being physically stored pretty much anywhere on the planet. If you urgently need access to a server in your own building, that is one thing. If the server is on another continent and if there are any updates on the situation, they will need to come through the cloud provider, which is a far worse situation. Your data will now be subject to any changes in the political situation and laws of a country about which you will almost certainly have very little knowledge. And should the data be compromised, any resulting legal action would likely prove complex and costly.
Before moving data from a more secure to a less secure environment, serious thought needs to be given to the implications if that data should be made public. If the information is too sensitive or valuable to risk being lost, then perhaps the cloud is not the best place for it to reside.
By moving to cloud computing you may in a small way be unwittingly taking steps toward the data being made public in any case. You are, in effect, turning outsiders into insiders by allowing the personnel working for the cloud provider to have access to your information. Clearly thinking through the implications of this is something that needs to be done before making the move.
Any cloud provider should be happy to answer the security concerns of prospective clients. A potential new customer has the right to know what security systems are in place, whether these relate to buildings, personnel background checks or systems to prevent unauthorised access to their data.
Cloud computing should be seen as striking a balance between convenience and security that can benefit many, but will not be right for everyone.
About Author: Robert Dean has worked in the confidential shredding services industry for several years and believes in the importance of data security and confidentiality for new businesses. He currently works for The Shredding Alliance.