In just a few short years, the cloud has come along and has essentially revolutionized the way that personal users and businesses are using their computers. Instead of storing files and even software locally on a hard drive, it is all stored on a remote server that is always connected to the Internet. This means that enterprise deployments for businesses can occur in an “on demand” capacity, allowing businesses to only pay for the software they’re going to use. This also means that all files and folders can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection, allowing people to be just as productive while on the go as they are at home.
As more and more people grow to depend on the cloud on a daily basis, “trust” becomes an important issue that needs to be addressed. If you’re storing all of the files that your business depends on daily or all of your personal documents on a cloud-based server, the question of “just how secure is the cloud?” becomes of paramount importance.
The question of “how secure is the cloud?” is one that unfortunately does not have a straightforward answer. Most cloud-based service providers offer their own basic security which will vary depending on exactly which provider you’re talking about. You can also enable extra security provisions as necessary (and also increase the total amount of money that you’re paying at the same time).
Most cloud-based providers offer either a standard or military-grade level of encryption for all information stored on their servers. This means that the information is essentially “scrambled” in such a way that even if information was intercepted, it would be impossible to actually do anything with unless you had the appropriate key. As the user is supposed to be the only one with the appropriate key, this in theory is a satisfactory way to keep your private information away from prying eyes.
The issue quickly becomes, however, what happens if the cloud-based provider also holds the encryption key to your data? This is a scenario that is commonly seen when both businesses and individuals get into a relationship with a particular provider. Search engine giant Google, for example, also provides certain cloud-based functions for accounts. Google gets thousands of requests per year from both federal and local governments to hand over user data. Because Google always has access to that data, it is an easy request to fulfill.
This means that while the cloud is certainly convenient in a variety of situations, it is not a “be all, end all” solution to data security. In point of fact, it actually makes for an easier situation in certain cases when third party individuals attempt to access the important information you’ve stored there.