The Complications of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing.  The one-way ticket to easier online storage and convenient file access.  Sounds like the best of both worlds, right?  With the ability to send all of those files away from your computer and ‘up into the cloud’, or onto the web, you now leave your confidential documents in the hands of a third party cloud service provider.  It’s basically the same as giving all of your sensitive data and content control over to a stranger.  Now, it doesn’t seem so inviting.

Recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has predicted “horrible problems” with the future of cloud computing.  “I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” he states.  “I think it’s going to be horrendous.  I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”

Although the “horrible problems” that Wozniak is speaking of weren’t specified directly, I think it’s safe to say that these issues deal with the privacy and security concerns of keeping confidential data on a cloud.  With the added layer of virtualization embedded in online storage, data transfer, etc., there is a huge potential risk that stored information could be compromised if proper security measures aren’t taken.  This obviously includes the accessibility of your information to hackers in addition to data leaks between customers in the cloud.

So, who’s responsible for keeping your content secure?  Well, actually, it’s a two way street. Security responsibilities include the cloud service provider’s duty to ensure that all of their clients’ data is fully secure in their cloud.  The user also has the responsibility of making sure that their cloud provider takes all of the necessary measures to protect their data.  Some companies even go as far as to claim that they are not responsible for the data that they are handling.  Wonderful.  It sort of reminds me of when you place your belongings in a huge storage compartment before you get on a roller coaster at the amusement park.  And the entire time you’re just hoping that, with as many items moving in and out of that box, everyone is taking only the stuff that belongs to them.  “Oh, and by the way, we’re not responsible for any lost or stolen items.  We just provide the storage compartment.”  Perfect.

Another important security factor that Wozniak spoke of was the inability to control any aspect of your data.  “With the cloud, you don’t own anything.  You already signed it away…I want to feel that I own things.  A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”

This is a pretty bold statement. I mean, you sign off your data to the hands of another person or entity and end up having no clue where it’s stored or who is managing it.  You lose ownership, according to Wozniak.  And with Dropbox’s recent security breach, the possibility of your data being taken over by an unauthorized person is greatly increasing.  Without complete ownership over your data, the only thing that you can do is to hound your cloud service provider with questions about how they’re keeping up with security standards and to create an amazingly strong password.  Now, if that isn’t convenient security, I don’t know what is.

So, all in all, cloud computing may not be the best choice in terms of safe online data storage.  With big dogs like Steve Wozniak predicting the future downfall of keeping your confidential data in the cloud, what’s to happen next?

SmartFile is a business file mangement platform that gives you more control, compliance and security.