While revolutionary in the world of business, cloud technologies also carry risks that enterprises need to be aware of. Since these storage mediums are often kept outside an organization’s direct control, ensuring that cloud providers are trustworthy is of the highest importance. Even cloud servers held within an organization’s direct control can be exploited by nefarious insiders or unauthorized users.
Further, it is important that data is stored in a stable political climate where privacy rights are protected to prevent the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. For businesses looking to implement cloud technologies, some insights are listed below for understanding the risks of cloud storage.
- Data Interception
Cloud technologies often use multiple servers from around the world to operate a single system or client session. While more efficient, this also leaves thousands of points where data can be intercepted along the way. Through packet sniffing, data has the potential to be intercepted at any point along the communication lines that connect clients and servers from thousands of miles away. Since this information can be read passively, businesses would have no way of knowing if their cloud cloud communications were being intercepted in this way.
Therefore, it is critical that businesses encrypt their communications when using cloud technologies. In many cases, it may be appropriate for businesses to use a VPN to keep their communications as safe as possible.
- Unauthorized Access
When using cloud technologies, unauthorized access is perhaps the greatest concern that businesses need to be aware of. Since cloud properties can be conveniently accessed from anywhere in the world, malicious users can utilize this same convenience to their advantage. In many cases, organizations give their system passwords to hundreds of users. While convenient, this also greatly multiplies the chances of unauthorized access (and we’ve continued to see recent examples of said breaches).
To prevent this, it is important for organizations to segregate access by having different access levels, minimize the number of authorized system users, and review access rights periodically. Further, organizations should put information in “silos” to prevent users from having access to more information than they need.
- Provider Extortion
In some cases, unethical cloud providers have been known to make it excessively difficult for companies to move their data from a cloud provider’s system. Since companies often store hundreds of terabytes of data on a system, a cloud provider could charge a high fee to transfer this data back into a company’s hands. Contractual terms like limitations on monthly downloads, deletion upon termination, and expensive download rates could force companies to pay high switching costs when moving to a new provider.
To prevent this, it is important that businesses read the terms and conditions of their cloud services carefully in order to prevent these problems. Further, businesses should be sure to only work with cloud providers that have an outstanding reputation for reliability and integrity.
- Efficiency Losses
While moving to the cloud can be profitable for businesses, it is also possible that these systems could be less efficient. Organizations should keep in mind that merely migrating their services to the cloud is insufficient to succeed with this technology. Rather, businesses should carefully evaluate their solution and make sure that cloud services will provide better service quality than traditional systems.
In many cases, businesses are moving to the cloud merely because it is the trend, without considering the decision carefully. These are important decisions that organizations should regard as critical to organizations survival and competitive advantage. Businesses that do this right have the potential to earn a high return on investment, but there is also the potential for losses if implemented incorrectly.
- Data Loss
When storing data in the cloud, it is also possible that it could get lost due to natural disasters or human error. Businesses should be careful to ensure that backups are regularly stored to defend against data loss if something were to happen. Further, it is always possible that data could be lost temporarily due to a power outage or problems in a provider’s data center.
There is also the possibility for political disturbances that could disrupt the flow of information. Therefore, it is important for businesses to take actions to ensure that they will be protected even if their data is lost completely.