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Cloud providers may be fueling unreasonable expectations among consumer and enterprise customers, giving them reason to believe their data is safe and their privacy protected when in reality it’s always vulnerable.
The level of control an enterprise has over its data in the cloud is arguably much less than what it maintains onsite using its own facilities and devices.
For example, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit focused on defending civil liberties in the digital realm, "National and international laws have yet to catch up with the evolving need for privacy that comes with new technology. Several governments have also chosen to use malware to engage in extra-legal spying or system sabotage for dissidents or non-citizens, all in the name of 'national security.'"
The liability issues I touched on in my prior post, Managed Services: Hidden Costs & Risks, raise concern over the false sense of security of Office 365. Not to single out Microsoft or anyone else, the true liability and breadth of risk may not be fully appreciated by businesses.
Case in point: Ask your insurance company for cyber insurance. Seek advice and recommendations from advisors at your insurance company and reevaluate the security you have in place protecting enterprise IT assets in an effort to adjust your premium. This exercise requires honesty and open-faced discussions both internally and with the advisors from the insurance company. It's an exercise you may not want to repeat or feel that the company can endure. An even more complex process yet is to protect company assets that reside in the cloud.
Consumers have a false sense of security about the cloud, believing that their data is as safe in the as it would be in a safe deposit box. The two just aren't the same. Data from any number of users or companies can be stored on a single server, the physical location of which isn't known to either the user or company.
Cloud isn't an end-all solution; everything has limitations. Careful consideration and planning is required when assessing what we put in the cloud and whether it is making our company vulnerable.
Years ago, I wrote that "Maybe You Should Get Your Head In The Clouds," and I still think today there are key opportunities to adopt the cloud. In spite of privacy concerns and security vulnerabilities, I think the cloud is growing into something more than just a utility.
The problems of security and maintaining privacy remain, as do protecting a firm's intellectual property and privacy. Understand that breaches can and do happen, and when they occur on a personal level they may be devastating to the individual. I find the cloud to be imperfect, but I'd be interested to hear how you are using the cloud to solve specific problems as well as what problems or challenges the cloud presents to you.