Clouding Our Judgment: Plenty to be Wary About in the Cloud


Last Thursday, Forbes released a story called “Why the Cloud Is Making BYOD Risk-Free.” However, there are indeed reasons to be wary of hopping on this “Bring Your Own Device” party train.

First of all, Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN), two leading cloud services providers, experienced outages in the past year, and public attacks do happen.

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images2 Clouding Our Judgment: Plenty to be Wary About in the Cloud“Hackers are always waiting to get their hands on private data, and most cloud service providers realize a single breach could become a public relations disaster—and, worse yet, a lawsuit,” said Daniel Stelter, professional tech blogger and owner of content market firm Dan’s SEO Copywriting. “You need to ask the service providers you’re considering what technology they use to protect your data while it’s in their hands.”

As with everything, the more control you have over an environment, the less risk you run. If you have a smaller business, you may not really need to worry about hackers destroying your livelihood—but larger companies are moving toward adopting private clouds for a reason.

“Some businesses are adopting public/private cloud hybrids, in which they use a third-party cloud vendor’s solution for some things but also maintain their own private cloud,” said James A. Martin, SEO copywriter and technology journalist of 20 years. “As for cost difference, my understanding is that the more you build and maintain yourself—for example, a completely private cloud—the more your costs will be, but also the greater your security and controls are.”

Mr. Stelter suggests asking your provider to encrypt your files while they’re stored in their database and to find out what other measures it can take to protect you from people trying to gain unauthorized access.

Jeff Pagano, client services manager at Power Consulting Group, said that he is wary of the public cloud because he likes to be able to help his clients and tell them exactly “what’s going on when things go bad.”

“With the cloud—the public cloud in particular—you’re calling tech support for any issues and getting the phone-hell runaround,” he said. “I prefer clients using our private cloud, one that I control from the ground up, so I can ensure quality of service and not have to rely on some third-party, overseas phone operator [to] tell me, ‘We’re working on it.’ That’s not good enough by a long shot.”

Carolyn Agro, an IT support services professional and independent consultant, similarly said she has always been hesitant to transfer email to cloud-based services, because it takes control and access away from an internal IT department, making it unable to troubleshoot and resolve problems right away.

“When there was a problem with the cloud, work would grind to a halt based on what server their email account was stored on. Sometimes the money you save is not worth the cost of down time to an organization,” she said.

It can also, in some cases, actually be a less-efficient alternative.

“Those who had large mailbox sizes, over 15 gigabytes, had problems when their email accounts needed to be recreated via the cloud,” Ms. Agro said. “It took up to a month for those with large accounts or with many, many emails to fully download and access.”

All in all, given that no security solution is ever, technically, 100 percent foolproof, it may still be worth the risk.

“Sometimes a bank gets robbed, but you keep your money there instead of at home because it’s still a safer option,” Mr. Stelter offered.