Data in the cloud

Who cares where your data is? – Roger’s Security Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

There are many issues with data security as soon as we start discussing the “cloud”. Handing control of your data to third parties is pretty obviously something that should take more thought than it does. One area that people forget is to think about the data itself – who owns and controls the email addresses of your customers? The moment it’s on salesforce (to pick an example), they have that data – very few people encrypt the data they give to their service providers; the data and the service are somehow conflated.

Roger picks out a great point which brought back to me my favourite argument against cloud services. At a basic level, the cloud does not exist – what does exist are servers and drives containing data. At any time you, as a “cloud” customer have no idea where your data resides – is it in the USA (the country that searches laptops that come across the border), is it in China, is it in Libya? Only the “cloud” provider may know this. This may seem like a superficial point, but something very serious lies beneath in that different countries retain their own controls over what is acceptable. Whilst we in the UK and Europe think that online gambling is fine, it’s not in the USA – what if a “cloud” provider puts data relating such activities into the USA?

Just to drive home the point – “cloud” customers also have no idea whom else’s data resides on the same hardware as their own. If a criminal or terrorist organisation (in a particular country; obviously definitions vary wildly) happens to share the same services as you, what chance your data could be raided and analysed?

All these points serve to remind us that the cloud does not exist. What does exist are a series of buildings, housing servers, that happen to have Internet connections. There’s a huge difference.