Cloud Storage: Addressing Common Concerns
There are hundreds of different cloud storage systems. Some have a very specific focus, such as storing web e-mail messages or digital pictures. Others are available to store all forms of digital data. Some cloud storage systems are small operations, while others are so large that the physical equipment can fill up an entire warehouse. The facilities that house cloud storage systems are called data centers.
The two biggest concerns about cloud storage are reliability and security. Clients aren’t likely to entrust their data to another company without a guarantee that they’ll be able to access their information whenever they want and no one else will be able to get at it.
To secure data, most systems use a combination of techniques, including:
- Encryption, which means they use a complex algorithm to encode information. To decode the encrypted files, a user needs the encryption key. While it’s possible to crack encrypted information, most hackers don’t have access to the amount of computer processing power they would need to decrypt information.
- Authentication processes, which require the creation of a user name and password. The client usually lists the people who are authorized to access information stored on the cloud system. Many corporations have multiple levels of authorization. For example, a front-line employee might have very limited access to data stored on a cloud system, while the head of human resources might have extensive access to files.
Even with these protective measures in place, many people worry that data saved on a remote storage system is vulnerable. There’s always the possibility that a hacker will find an electronic back door and access data. Hackers could also attempt to steal the physical machines on which data is stored. A disgruntled employee could alter or destroy data using his or her authenticated user name and password. Cloud storage companies invest a lot of money in security measures in order to limit the possibility of data theft or corruption.
The other big concern, reliability, is just as important as security. An unstable cloud storage system is a liability. No one wants to save data to a system prone to failure, or trust a company that isn’t financially stable. While most cloud storage systems try to address this concern through redundancy techniques, there’s still the possibility that an entire system could crash and leave clients with no way to access their saved data.
Cloud storage companies live and die by their reputation. It’s in each company’s best interest to provide the most secure and reliable service possible. If a company can’t meet these basic client expectations, it doesn’t have much of a chance — there are too many other options available in the market.