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on Thursday, 20 September 2012
in Security Issues

Be Aware of the Dangers of Cloud Computing

cloud computing

With 85% of companies now using private and public cloud for storage and applications, cloud security is not something that anyone can afford to ignore.  The problem with cloud computing is that when you go onto the cloud, you lose a lot of control over how your data is kept secure.   If you are not careful about choosing your cloud provider and don't ask the right questions, you can put your company at risk from data loss, malicious attacks, legal risks and compliance issues.

 The main dangers of cloud computing can be summed up into four categories:

1.       Data Security

2.       Legal risks

3.       Insider Attacks

4.       Cloud Provider Risks

Data Security

If the cloud isn't kept secure your data can be leaked, or accessed by unauthorised persons.  This could be accidental, when your data is housed in the same virtual server or by a hacker or by weak security protocols enabling members of your staff access to data they shouldn't have access to.  .  Often you won't even be aware that your cloud provider has suffered a security breach until it affects you directly. Another risk is that should you decide to move cloud providers, your data might not be efficiently deleted and could be accessed by other companies using your former cloud resource.

Legal Risks

The laws regulating the internet, data protection and data gathering vary from country to country and you could, inadvertently, find your company breaking the law by storing data on a data server in one country that is legal in your country, but not there.  Also, if you have reached a certain industry standard or proved compliance with a certain code, you could lose this standard if your cloud vendor does not also meet the conditions of the standard.

Insider Attacks

Angry employees within either your company or the cloud provider company could access and change or delete the data held on the cloud.  They could re-assign passwords or leak valuable data.

Cloud Provider Risks

Your Cloud Provider could go out of business, leaving you unable to access your data.  You could find that you cannot access the cloud as your provider is suffering from hardware or software failure or you could, by means of your contract, be tied to one provider for a long period.

How to Prevent These Risks

The easy way to avoid these dangers is to take a good close look at your cloud provider's Service Level Agreement.  Make sure you know how they handle security and that you are happy with the levels of authentication needed to access your data.  Also ensure that they understand regulatory implications around the world to keep you safe from lawsuits.  Finally, choose a provider who is regularly audited by a cloud auditing service to ensure they are up to date with the latest in procedures and policies to safeguard your data.

*Figures from a study carried out by Vanson Bourne, September 2012, among 550 IT and business decision makers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.  

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