Introduction Cloud computing is one of the hottest topics these days and a lot of research has been put in place to know how safe it is but are companies really going to start entrusting their most valued information to this new computing style? Maybe yes because so far a lot of companies are going into that direction and it is definitely the present now instead of the future. With this being said cloud computing has also raised a lot of questions about privacy issues that leads into ethical issues.
The cloud is the internet and we all know how risky that can be, especially when it comes to entrusting sensitive documents given the threat of constant breach from hackers and criminals and not to mention system crash and other technical issues which can create a nightmare for a business. Information could be monitored and pulled by anyone anytime if the system is breached. What is cloud computing?
Cloud is a metaphor for the internet but when you combine it with computing it gives it another meaning that is still connected to the internet but in a different style and form (Knorr, Grumman). Cloud computing is using multiple server computer through a digital network as though they were one computer. It enables convenient, on-demand network access to share pool of configurable computing resources that can rapidly provision or release with minimal management effort or service provider interaction (Wikipedia).
Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing narrowly as an updated version of utility computing: basically virtual servers available over the Internet. Cloud computing is the next big trend and it is best known for its pay per use service. Cloud computing compose of saas, utility computing, web service in the cloud, platform as a service and managed service providers (Knorr, Gruman). Is it Good or Bad?
There is no specific answer on whether it is good or bad because it depends on your perception and views. There are mixed views on this. Some people say it is bad because it still has a lot of security issues and it is attracting only western markets. It is also bad because a lot of companies will not have privacy and will be easily exposed for their operations. This also brings the question of ethical issues.
With the cloud it is easy to gain access to business files and documents weather they want the government to have access to it or not. It leads to invasion of privacy which is considered an ethical issue depending on how it’s done. On the other hand some say it is good because of low cost to companies and because people will not commit atrocities when they know their files and docs can be retrieved at any time. Also it will save us from using a lot of resources to make and produce both software and hardware. Benefits and risks
Cloud computing is still at its early stage and it’s going to develop and more people will switch. With cloud computing companies do not have to invest extra into new machines or equipment. Moreover, with user friendly interface, there is minimum training of staff to learn new software and hardware systems. It’s all still computing as we know it just in a different form and space. Another benefit is its easy, convenient and on-demand network access to share computing resources. It also requires minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Some of the risks are: lesser privacy under the law, weak security system that are too easy to break into, data lock in and third party control, sever unavailability and account lockout. Lesser privacy under the law is when cops can obtain private information easily when it is stored on a third party web or stored in the cloud. To come to a person’s home or office is much harder. Weak security system that is too easy to break into.
The government getting into personal files is less of a threat than illegal intruders (Trapani 2009). Hackers can get into file easier and manipulate files or obtain it. Data lock in and third party control is when third party web managers can use information to do what they want with it. Sever unavailability and account lockout when the web server goes down. For example you want to rehearse for a presentation if everything is in the cloud and the server goes down you cannot access your docs (Trapani 2009).
A recent survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group uncovered the IT disaster recovery trends of a range of companies using cloud computing for data storage, backup and recovery. Comparing cloud users and non-cloud users, they found that mid-sized companies ($50 million to $1 billion of yearly revenue) were the largest group to adopt the cloud for data storage, accounting for 48 percent of the cloud users surveyed. Small companies (under $50 million of yearly revenue) were next at 38 percent and large companies (above $1 billion of yearly revenue) came in last at only 26 percent (Pham 2011). Security Issues
One of the most complex set of problems that may arise when a company’s data is processed and stored remotely is the impact of that environment on the privacy and security of the personal information embodied in that data. Moving functionality into the cloud is unlikely to relieve the customer of privacy and security obligations attendant to the personal data involved. This is a generic corporate-wide problem that is impacting many companies, along with their attorneys, around the world. (Bender 2012)
Whether or not data stored in the cloud is in general actually more vulnerable to data security breaches, the steady migration to cloud computing suggests that we can expect many more breaches involving the cloud. In some industries ( e.g. , healthcare or financial services), US law imposes specific privacy restrictions, whereas in most industries companies are subject to generic privacy and security laws governing such matters as data security breaches, disposal of documents, etc.
Many of the problems associated with cloud computing are no different from problems encountered when a user selects a service provider. But other problems are unique to cloud computing. (Bender, 2012) Cloud computing has a lot of security issues that we know about and don’t know yet. As technology improves and more security measures are being put in place, so are hackers improving their skills and attacks. With cloud everyone should expect to be breeched or hacked every now and then because there is a higher probability of that happening.
Ethical Issues Some of the ethical issues of cloud computing have been mentioned above but I will emphasize on them. First of all any system that have a third party taking care off sensitive information makes a company vulnerable to leak of information once the info gets in the wrong hands. With cloud computing when the information gets compromised, who is to be blamed? Who takes the responsibility for what happened? Is it the company or the third party who’s managing the info in the cloud? Another thing is the privacy issue the government and any hacker can get access to the information faster than grid computing.
These examples not only raise privacy issues but also security issues. Is a company’s information safe enough in the cloud? What if someone gets a hold of the information and use it against the company and clients? Do we blame it on the company or the third party? Conclusion
In conclusion, Cloud computing is still a developing process and there are still a lot of security and privacy issues with it. Having said the above, whenever a company decides to get cloud they must choose between cost and security and find a balance. cloud computing can be seen from the positive and the negative but regardless of both sides it is happening and everyone wants to save money and make profit no matter what the price is. It is just another phase of computing style and it is inevitable. As I said earlier it is the hottest topic and research is still going on to improve it and make it safer.
Reference Bender, D. (2012). Privacy and Security Issues in Cloud Computing. Computer & Internet Lawyer, 29(10), 1-15. Knorr, E, Grumman, G, (ND) What Cloud Computing Really Means Pham, T, (August 25 2011) 2011 Cloud and It Disaster Recovery Statistics Trapani, J (July 29 2009) Hidden Risk of Cloud Computing