Should You Really Trust Public Cloud Storage Services with Your Valuable Data?

Posted by Tobias Eichenseer Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:52:00 GMT

Businesses today face a new challenge in the form of data – big data analytics make businesses more efficient, and for many companies, managing large volumes of data (storing, sharing and backing up company files) has become mission critical. In part, this challenge has been overcome by cloud storage services such as DropBox and Google Drive, but how safe are such services?

While there are many exciting uses for cloud storage, using public cloud storage services to store the bulk of your private or corporate data is not advisable.

No Security, No Protection from Deletion or Loss
The notion of storing all or the majority of your files online appears to be a simple and affordable option for everyone. However, there is a catch – none of your data is safe! Almost all of the main cloud storage services refuse to assure the security of any data uploaded to their servers. Until a provider is ready to guarantee the safety of your data, it is not sensible to upload anything of importance. With these solutions, all of the individual or company’s sensitive data is housed on a cloud server that the individual/company has no control over. This is obviously an issue for many organizations.

No Protection from Spying or Termination
One issue is having data deleted or inaccessible, but what if all private documents are scanned and searched through? Transferring documents to a digital/online medium does not indicate that that we should lose all rights to privacy. However, when using cloud storage services, we are losing our privacy.
No Permissions and Access Control
More traditional server systems or private cloud deployments allow for extremely fine-grained access control of files by setting up group permissions allowing certain data to be accessible to specific users. Often, groups are set up on servers and folders are shared accordingly, such as “administrators,” “financial,” and “sales”. In this manner, the sales staff cannot access your HR data, and the receptionist cannot read your financial information. Implementing similar permissions on cloud services is not an easy task. Many cloud storage services adopt the philosophy of simplicity, whereby they do not offer more advanced controls such as permissions and access control.  

Other Prevalent Issues to Consider
Apart from the issues outlined above – security, spying and access control – there are several other issues to consider before opting for cloud storage services. Some organizations, businesses and industries may have regulations or by-laws that prevent them from using such services because they handle data that is highly sensitive and requires a high level of protection. Furthermore, these service providers are allowed to change the way that the service operates, unbeknownst to their customers, which can cause issues for organizations who are not prepared for it.       
Due to minimal costs involved, these cloud services may appear to be an easy solution to data management, but it is still not worth the risk; for businesses, data loss or theft may result in complications that translate into millions of dollars, and may permanently damage the company’s brand and reputation. Public cloud storage services are an innovative step in cloud computing, but our advice is not to put anything of value in it. Ultimately, security should never be sacrificed for compatibility.

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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