Cloud Computing Security

While cloud computing can provide benefits to many organizations, including having 24/7 and remote access to your software and/or data, there are cloud computing security risks to your business, also. If you are aware of cloud computing security risks, though, you can evaluate their impact on your business and, sometimes, take steps to reduce them.

There are obvious risks, like your internet access going down; or hosting problems, where problems at the cloud host’s location prevent you from accessing an important application. But there are less obvious risks, also. Here are

10 Cloud Computing Security Risks that Might Affect Your Business:

1. If you have a conflict with your cloud host (also called cloud service provider), and they are a large company, such as Google or Microsoft, you cannot hope to win. They simply have the legal team, the time, and the money to outlast your budget.

2. If you choose a regional or local host for your cloud computing, you need to make sure the contract specifies both the amount of notice you get if the host company is going out of business, and what happens to your data in the event they close their doors.

3. If you take credit cards in your business, you need to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Cloud computing security is specifically required by the PCI Security Standards Council. Here is an Information Supplement that explains the Data Security Standards for cloud computing.

4. If your company has a dispute with a cloud service provider, any legal action will be under the laws of the state where the data is located. Not the state where your company is located, nor the state where the cloud host company is located: it isn’t intuitive, but the data’s storage location determines jurisdiction.

5. If the cloud computing security of your online service provider is compromised, it’s highly unlikely you will get any kind of reimbursement. Cloud computing contracts don’t include provisions for reimbursing you for breached security. Even with Cyber Insurance (which is available and provides some protection), it is very difficult to prove the value of your data, and therefore get any kind of payment.

6. Legal issues about who actually owns data that is stored in the cloud can come up. If a cloud host has your data on their site; uses it for a purpose of their own, such as combing through it for information they can use in their marketing; then they have possession of the data and have used it for their benefit. That’s pretty legally compelling when it comes to defining the ‘owner’ of the data.

7. Would you ever know if your cloud host accessed your data? As long as they don’t damage or delete it, probably not. Some influential people in the world of computing feel like cloud computing is a large experiment with small businesses being the guinea pig.

8. Various laws apply to cloud computing; some federal, some state. This patchwork of laws is changing rapidly and creates cloud computing security risk. The changes in these laws are trending toward more judicial access. In other words, governments are allowing law enforcement to require cloud hosting companies to provide access to the information they store, especially email information. Sometimes law enforcement and government agencies don’t even need a warrant to request and get information.

9. If you use software on the cloud, the software company may not want to retain past years’ data as long as you want them to do so (your data is taking up room on their server). Make sure the contract specifies the length of time they’ll retain your data and you are comfortable with that timeframe.

10. If you use an online backup solution, you have more cloud computing security if you encrypt your data at your location; then send it over the internet to your online backup provider. You never want to send un-encrypted data over the web.

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Alesa Locklear provides content marketing, such as blogs and e-newsletters, to companies wanting to stay in touch with prospects and customers. She can be reached at

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