Potential problems with Cloud services
There are many concerns about Cloud security. Information and Security Officers worry they may lose control when they consider Cloud storage. Actually the Cloud infrastructure is not any more or less secure than on – premise storage.
It is important to remember that the Service provider is only responsible for the physical and network security.
The company using the service is responsible for the intrinsic security of the data they are planning to store in the Cloud, and take responsibility for securing that data. So the client company should still build in safeguards such as encryption and tokenisation. They should protect and restrict access to sensitive data and have robust access policies in place that will ensure the information is secure should there be a network breach. They could be just one weak password away from a crisis caused by a data breach.
It is worth noting that most of the huge data breaches we have seen recently involved traditional on- premise IT systems, not Cloud systems.
Many companies are concerned with compliance issues. Banks, for example, are banned by regulators in some countries from using certain public cloud services for these reasons, although this is beginning to change now. Other argue that security is no longer an issue with the Cloud, and it is in fact more secure than on- premises hosting in many cases.
Some businesses are nervous about moving critical applications to the Cloud, and believe that conventional set ups are likely to be more robust and stable
There are some questions around control of the location of data. More than a third of UK business data is held outside the UK, and European law states that companies must have control over the location of their data. This is obviously not an issue with on –premises storage.
The cost of software licenses is an issue too. For example Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite carries a monthly fee for the Cloud version, with the standard version free of charge
If you rely on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you depend on the supplier for patches and upgrades, and inevitably you lose some control. If you use on-premises products, you can control the timing of fixes and upgrades.
The cost of local storage is usually cheaper than using a WAN or wide-area network connection controlled by a telecom company, which is your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The issue is that your access is controlled by ISPs and telecoms companies, and who knows what they might do in the future with charges? They may meter the service, charging for bandwidth, so that the more that is used, the higher the cost.
And what about crashes and outages? They have happened, not frequently, but it is another factor outside your control and one you must plan for.
Another issue is intellectual property. Who owns the data you store online? Your business or the company storing it? There has already been controversy over changes in terms of service for Cloud services such as Facebook and Instagram, concerning what they can do with your photos. There is a distinction between data you upload, and data you create in the cloud. The provider may have a claim on ownership of the latter.
Who regulates Cloud service providers? There is no central body governing use of the Cloud for storage and services.
Cloud access for business
The public Cloud is great for consumers, but for businesses where security is of paramount importance, private networking solutions can offer high performance and secure connectivity.
With the public internet, a login page is used to access cloud based application, and this provides a weak spot, a target for cyber criminals.
With a private WAN (wide area network) integrating the Cloud service with the business network, such a weak spot does not exist, so security is higher.
Because the network is private, there is no traffic congestion, data flow can be controlled and performance is enhanced. So the use of a private WAN is becoming a key component in Cloud strategy. Currently there are only a few carriers who have made the necessary investment in the physical internet infrastructure, but we can expect this to develop rapidly as cloud adoption becomes more widespread.