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A huge amount of world data is stored in “the cloud.”

Cloud computing is where data and applications are remotely stored rather than being stored on your own premises. This can save on IT costs and speed up operations, but it does raise the question as to whether it is safe or not.

More public cloud platforms are offered by the likes of Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, and with so much information being stored in the cloud, can we trust that it is always safe?

Risks of the cloud

Although the cloud can save a lot of money and time, which can help businesses optimise their growth and maintain their competitive edge, the cloud does carry risks.

A big risk is that you are giving up control of your data to someone else using different data centres in off-site places. You’re placing your data in the hands of someone else, so if disaster strikes, such as data being wiped, lost or stolen, what happens then?

By outsourcing, there is also the assumption that all security precautions have been taken care of, but this can’t be safely assumed all the time. It is still your data and you still need to protect it – it remains your responsibility in terms of ensuring its safety.

In order to make sure that your data remains safe in the cloud, encryption is needed – both during data transit, and when it’s “at rest” in the cloud.

Encrypting data

Amazon Web Services is the biggest public cloud platform, allowing customers to choose to control their own encryption keys, and to set the rules for who can access the data. Amazon Web Services have explicitly said:

“We just supply the resources. We don’t control how the data is protected, customers do.”

The way the data is encrypted can also affect the level of security.

Dropbox

Mark Crosbie, international head of trust and security at Dropbox, says they split their data files up and encrypt them separately, and store them in different places so that, if anyone was to break in, they would only have access to a random section.

Dropbox encourages companies to use a two-factor authentication, offering more secure storage data options.

Keeping your data safe

The cloud can be easier, but whether it is safer can be relative to your own IT provider. The recent major data breaches over the last five years, like the 56 Dean St clinic, TalkTalk, and Sony breaches, have all been through use of the internet…

As with anything, however, there is always a threat, and this has led to major providers giving customers the option to handle their own encryption keys so no one on the inside has access to customer’s data.

Early days

As the cloud is in the early days of its use, there may be holes in the model. We are starting to see a growth in companies switching to using the cloud, so hopefully security will get better and better as time goes on.

Data is normally stored in a variety of locations, so if it was destroyed in one place, it can still be available in another and can be transferred or backed up.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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Your privacy is extremely important to us. Information on how we handle your data is in our Privacy Policy.
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First published by Editor on September 13, 2016
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