Cloud computing is being incorporated into many corporate data infrastructures in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. By moving data—and even computational power—over to the Internet and allowing this information and functionality to exist online, there’s an enormous amount of cost-effectiveness and convenience that comes with the transition.
Data is no longer confined to one machine, or even one network, and this allows anyone with a need to access data the ability to pull up relevant information or software on any device, anywhere. This also means that vital information has one more avenue for preservation, so even in the event of storage or system failure, the data is still available online to be downloaded and can be restored on whatever hardware is accessible.
But while cloud computing is undoubtedly convenient, like most technological methods, it isn’t 100% foolproof.
Strengths Can Be Weaknesses
In the same way that traditional computers and networks are not impervious to attack or failure, neither is cloud computing. That doesn’t mean, however, that simply because a risk is present, the technology is impractical.
The ease of accessibility that cloud computing affords can, with the right exploitation, also be a vulnerability. As with traditional computing, services and accounts can be hijacked using techniques such as “phishing”, social engineering, and other techniques, and it can happen even to large corporations. Amazon discovered this in 2010 when customer credentials were acquired from their cloud network. Lessons have been learned since then, and cloud security is a very real point of development, with organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance working closely with companies to establish new standards and protocols.
Insecure APIs are another casualty, trying to reconcile the need for the security with the need for easy access. Once again, however, a lot of progress has been made in this area, and public facing APIs have done good work in defining how third parties connect with applications and authenticate those connections.
Ultimately, the question of whether enterprise cloud computing is safe is, as it is with traditional computing, a question of trust. When you opt in to a computer or network, or use mainframe outsourcing, you place a certain amount of trust in the service providers to create a safe, quality experience. Cloud computing is no different, and in the last five years, it has made many strides to bring a higher level of efficiency—and security—to clients that use these services.