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Is Your Business Safe in the Cloud?

By: SmallBizClub

 

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We are all puzzled by the cloud, aren’t we? Well, most of us are. Regardless of the claims made by online data storage services that all our data is encrypted, there is really no guarantee. The myth about data “privacy” on the Internet has been absolutely overshadowed by the recent revelation stating that federal government taps into emails, cloud service providers and files of Internet search engines. Hence, we are not at all paranoid when we ask ourselves—is our business safe in the cloud? In fact, experts have agreed that once the data is moved to the cloud, there’s simply no way to ever be completely sure that data will remain secure.

 
Once you store your data in the cloud, you are assured (and reassured) by cloud services, providers of email, chat and social network that the data stored is private and encrypted. In reality, they are the ones holding the keys to all of it. Basically, if at any point any government “legally” requests encryption keys they will be allowed to see all your previously stored data. Sure, you are guaranteed by service providers that you are the only person who gets to see the data, but experts claim that there is no way to be sure others won’t be able to gain access.
 
In fact, “Freedom of Information Act requests by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed earlier this year that the U.S. government claims the right to read personal online data without warrants.” Meaning, governments around the world believe they should be able to access any data that had previously been recorded. This isn’t specific for the U.S. only, although they have been known to brag about it to a certain degree.
 
Google regularly gets requests from governments and courts around the world to hand over user data. Last year, Google received 21,389 government requests to hand in information affecting 33,634 user accounts. 66% of the time Google provided at least some data in response. During that same year, Microsoft received 70,665 requests affecting 122,015 accounts. This is almost four times the number Google received. Microsoft turned over actual content for only 2.2% of those requests resulting in 1,558 accounts affected by the activity.
 
A silver lining for everyone who wants to keep their data out of government’s hands is a cottage industry that’s growing up around tools for enabling consumers to be the only people with access to the data—not even vendors themselves can get to the information.
 
As for using cloud services, researchers said there are no clear guidelines about what can and can’t be trusted for the service providers to store. Also, whether you are or are not “scared” of your data getting into government’s hands, you want to know whether the cloud is a safe or an unsafe place for data storage. Also, you want to know which companies you can trust with your data. Experts have done research and awarded stars according to the company’s privacy levels. Dropbox, LinkedIn and Google all have five stars. You’d be surprised to learn that Apple, AT&T and Yahoo each received only one gold star while ISP Sonic.net and Twitter got six out of six.
 
All in all, it all comes down to one conclusion—the cloud is absolutely safe for all your data, or is it? Exactly. We can never be sure. But, a piece of advice – don’t cloud anything you don’t want seen by anyone else but you. Just in case.
 
Author: Damian Wolf has years of experience in small business and marketing. Currently, he’s occupied with business security systems and customers satisfaction at JD Security Alarm Monitoring from Sydney, Australia. Damian use experience and reliable information from company to write content which is primarily targeted to business people. You can find Damian on Twitter @damianlwolf.
 
Published: November 3, 2014
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