By Allie Philpin
Now, don’t panic… we’re not saying don’t implement the cloud; we just want to make sure that you’ve considered the disadvantages, or risks, as well as the advantages when it comes to cloud computing. Indeed, Zone Se7en has just moved over to the cloud but we spent time evaluating not only the positives, but also the negatives before we took the leap!
Cloud computing is expected to become a multi-billion industry by 2014, and it does offer businesses and organisations a whole range of benefits – scalable storage, better collaboration, reduced infrastructure costs, access anywhere there’s Internet connection and at any time, improved productivity, time savings – the list goes on… But there are risks associated with cloud computing and here are five that we think you need to be aware of before you plunge into investing in a cloud solution.
1. Who’s looking after your data? Not you! It’s your cloud provider’s job; they look after maintenance, updates and security, and you have to put your trust in them! Unlike a data centre that holds your data in-house and over which you have control, a cloud is off-premise so, you are outsourcing that control.
2. Watch out for that cyberattack! If your provider doesn’t get the security levels right, your data is open to being hacked! Steve Santorelli at the Internet security research group, Team Cymru, says: “The scary thing is the vulnerability to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and the concentration of so much data. The single point of failure is the cloud.” And when it comes to your data being hacked, you need to cover yourself internally, too! An employee may give access to your cloud to others who may then go on to attack/steal/copy your data, which can go undetected.
3. Big Brother is watching? If you aren’t aware of the possibility that someone other than your competitors is watching your data, then you haven’t been listening to the news! Leaks by the NSA and government reports on surveillance programs (on both sides of the Atlantic!) have highlighted this source of security breach. Scott Hazdra, a security consultant at Neohapsis, warns: “Government entities and technology companies may be inspecting your data as it is transmitted or where it resides in the Internet, including within clouds.”
4. Potential lawsuits. Ok, this risk only raises its head after there’s been a security breach, yet it is something that you need to be aware of. Those that have been affected by any security breaches may potentially file a lawsuit against you. Robert J. Scott at Scott & Scott LLP, a law firm specialising in intellectual property and technology, says: “The latest risks to using cloud for business are compliance, legal, liability and business continuity. Information security has always been finding a balance between ease of access and the sharing of information verses completely locked down security.”
5. Where’s the support? Can’t get access to your data and you need it for a meeting? A security breach has taken down your website, now what? I know, contact my cloud provider! Err, no, they’re not available and there is no technical support team… Moral of the story? Make sure your cloud provider has a good technical support team, 24/7 preferably! Whilst you may think your business systems aren’t mission-critical, your online presence probably is and you need to make sure your cloud provider looks after it on your behalf.
Cloud computing is going to grow; whilst it doesn’t suit every business, it is a huge benefit to many. Don’t be gullible and fall for all the advantages your potential cloud provider is promoting; beware of the risks and weigh up the pros and cons before you sign that dotted line.