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Cloud Computing and Privacy

Cloud Computing and Privacy

Cloud Computing and Privacy

June 07, 2016 – In recent years, the tension between Privacy and Security has gotten a fair amount of attention in the United States. From NSA metadata collection to Apple phone encryption, we’ve seen a lively discussion play out around the trade-off between these two important concepts.

But luckily, when it comes to storing your data in the cloud, there is no need to choose sides. In the context of the cloud, privacy is considered a subset of security and entails making the right data available to the right users at the right time while preventing unauthorized access. This includes controlling access to behavioral patterns and associations between data that could be used to glean revealing sensitive or personally/group identifiable information.

To Cloud or Not To Cloud?

While decisions around security and privacy when it comes to the cloud may be straightforward, the decision of whether or not to utilize a cloud in the first place tends to be a bit more agonizing. Many CIOs and CTOs—and CEOs for that matter—still feel a deep sense of dread when broaching the idea of putting one of their most valuable assets—their data—in the hands of a third party.

The cloud gets a lot of publicity, good and bad. For those with only topical level knowledge, the cloud can sound new-fangled, possibly revolutionary, and even overblown. Truthfully, the cloud is the logical next step in the Information Technology trajectory. Specialization is one of the foundational concepts that define humanity—it is a crucial aspect of all society and economics. The ability to consistently rely on another more knowledgeable individual or group of individuals gives each of us the tools to transcend our own personal limitations—and the cloud is no different.

Is your IT team apprised of the latest trends in storage, encryption, and other security techniques? Does IT have enough time during their day to do extensive research? Enough to influence company-defining decisions? Or do they have too much to do already? Well, reputable Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) make these concerns their livelihood.

As high profile cases concerning security breaches abound, the Cloud has to a certain extent become a scapegoat. Oftentimes the nature of these high profile security breaches is not well understood by the general public, and so IT stakeholders hunker down with what they have because it feels less risky.

The fact is, it is almost always more secure to store your data with a reputable organization that specializes in doing so. CSPs are significantly less likely to experience security breaches than other companies and organizations—the general consensus is that no public cloud environment has ever experienced a major breach. Organizations that have experienced major security breaches, like Target and the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), run their own IT operations. This means that they are responsible for essentially farming a top tier professional IT organization, on top of running their primary business. CSPs do not have this problem.

An Industry in Flux

If your IT team seems hesitant to adopt a Cloud-First strategy, it may be because traditional IT roles are changing. The value of IT teams is being reassessed and, in some cases, viewed as becoming less valuable. Contrary to some popular beliefs, however, the traditional IT role is merely changing, not going away—roles are morphing from primarily “providing” to more “facilitating.” Moving to the cloud does not mean losing your trusted IT team. If anything, your IT team will have an increased impact on the rest of your business through influencing decision-making.

It’s important to recognize that the Cloud is not a cure-all. There are organizations out there who simply cannot store their information outside of their own premises. Some organizations have extremely complex and heterogeneous environments, sometimes built up over years or even decades. Often these types of environments simply cannot be organized and migrated all at once. However, this doesn’t preclude you from the cloud or enjoying its many benefits. Many cloud providers require that their clients’ data be stored on the provider’s servers. A fair number of providers can set up private clouds for their clients—which can entail many of the same headaches that you would encounter with no cloud at all.