Why should you stay safe when using the Cloud?
The shared, on-demand nature of cloud computing introduces the possibility of new security breaches that can erase any gains made by the switch to cloud technology. Cloud computing – storing data and applications remotely rather than on your own premises. It can cut IT costs dramatically and speed up your operations.’s Chenda Ngak and CNET’s Scott Stein explain how cloud computing works, and how to protect your information: Despite the rise of public cloud platforms offered by the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, less than 10% of the world’s data is currently stored in the cloud. Building your own energy-hungry data centres is expensive and time-consuming, while managing hundreds of software applications chews up IT resources. If you can outsource a lot of this hardware and software to specialist tech companies that can expand or reduce the level of service according to your needs, it can save you a lot of time and money. Business leaders are looking to optimise and grow their businesses, and cloud can give them that – reducing costs and providing better customer experience. And being able to plug into a range of ready-made cloud-based services helps you develop new products at a faster pace, potentially giving you a competitive edge.
What are the risks?
The biggest risk is giving up control of your data to someone else using different data centres in remote places. What happens in the event of a disaster? You’re also putting your data next to someone else’s. Your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen. There is also a risk that by outsourcing file and data management to a third party, firms will assume all the security has been taken care of. You can’t assume that – it’s still your data and you are responsible for it.
So how do cloud providers keep our data safe?
The most obvious way is through encryption, both while the data is in transit and while it is “at rest” on the cloud servers. AWS, by far the biggest public cloud platform provider with more than a million active customers a month, has more than 1,800 security controls governing its services. . Customers can choose to control their own encryption keys if they wish, he says, as well as set the rules for who can and can’t access the data or applications. Most of the security innovation comes from customer demand, so the bar for security gets ratcheted up every time. It says a lot that online retailer Amazon is happy to run its entire business on its own cloud platform. Cloud
So is data actually safer in the cloud?
Well, that depends on the quality of your cloud provider compared to if you have your own IT department. Most of the major data breaches that have taken place over the last five years, from companies like Sony, Ashley Madison, TalkTalk, Target etc. have been from internal, not cloud-based, databases. There is always an inherent threat that admin  working for a cloud provider could access your machines or data from within – that’s a business risk you are taking. This is why the major cloud providers give customers the option to handle their own encryption keys, meaning no-one inside the provider could get access even if they wanted to. And some companies are now adopting a “hybrid” approach – keeping their more sensitive data in a private cloud and other data and applications in the public cloud.
If it’s so safe, why isn’t everyone moving to the cloud?
Good point. These are still early days – less than 10% of the world’s data is estimated to be stored in the cloud. Late last year, US bank Capital One said it was reducing the number of its own data centres from eight to three by 2018 and moving a lot of its processes and product development to AWS. Towergate Insurance recently announced that it was migrating its IT infrastructure to the public cloud as well.
Where is all this data stored?
The major public cloud providers offer a number of data centres – AWS covers 12 regions globally – storing multiple copies of customer data. So if one centre is destroyed in an earthquake or other natural disaster, your data is still safe. But concerns around data privacy, particularly in Europe following the rescinding of the Safe Harbour data sharing agreement and the Edward Snowden leaks, mean providers are increasingly offering the option to host data in customers’ own regions.

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