Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Concerns with Cloud Computing

In the article The Future of Business and Cloud Computing, Peter Hann discusses the advantages of cloud computing in business, its concerns, and the solution to its complications.  Cloud computing is generally defined as “software devices that are delivered through the Internet to customers, who do not therefore require their own servers” (Hann 1).  In other words, it is a cost efficient means, which allows an individual or company to maintain and allocate data without physically maintaining the data themselves.  The major service providers of this cloud computing are Google, IBM, Amazon and Yahoo. 
Peter Hann’s article effectively explicates the benefits of cloud computing which include a decrease of expenses and a decrease in necessitated capital equipment for a company, however, the article fails to elaborate on the several concerns that surround cloud computing.  Peter Hann solely mentions the fact that clouds cannot function together, which in turn signifies that data “cannot be transferred directly to…another cloud” (Hann 1), one only has the power to withdraw data.  While this fact does inhibit businesses slightly, cloud computing has many more concerns than simple data transfer flexibility. 
A vital concern of cloud computing Hann does not mention is the fact that the cloud may not be a secure location to store and transfer data.  Prior to the notion of cloud computing, companies would maintain their data in a private corporate network or system.  Currently, with cloud computing one must now transfer data through the Internet, which may leave the data vulnerable for the amount of time it passes through the Internet.  Additionally, the important information stored on the cloud has an increased likelihood of being stolen, given the fact that he cloud is essentially a public domain.  These two concerns would not be an issue for companies if data remained within private company networks.  
Another difficulty surrounding cloud computing is the essential loss of control over an individual or company’s data.  Once an individual or company transfers data to a cloud, the cloud service provider is generally responsible for the security and management of the data.  This fact may be unsettling for many users of a cloud service provider, as one never truly knows what can happen with the data that is not directly under control, which relates directly to the previous concern of cloud’s being an unsecure location for the storing of data. 
Peter Hann ends his article with a solution to his sole concern regarding cloud computing.  The solution is to develop a “network of interconnecting clouds…referred to as the intercloud” (Hann 2).  While this solution would eliminate the inhibition of clouds being unable to function together, it does not eliminate the all-important problem, which deems clouds as unsecure locations for the storing and transferring of data.  I believe once the concerns of security and control are corrected, not when the intercloud is constructed, the majority of society will gravitate towards cloud service providers. 



  1. Rey, I completely agree with your view that cloud computing will be used by society when people have confidence that their data is secure. A point that was mentioned addresses the issue that data cannot be moved to another cloud. If I wanted to get information from my cloud to my friend’s cloud, I would have to download the data onto my hard drive and then upload it to the other cloud. This issue might be solved with the formation of an intercloud, a network of interconnected clouds. Yes, it would be really useful to have an intercloud, but that is not the solution that society needs.

    Cloud technology can be extremely helpful for businesses and individuals alike, but some data that needs to be stored, cannot be guaranteed the security it needs on a cloud. For example, the government stores extremely confidential data that must be protected through many levels of security so the data cannot be compromised. At this time, even on a government server, computer hackers are trying to gain access to important data that could be used against our government and our country.

    The age of cyber warfare is coming where countries find ways to compromise another country’s data in hopes of creating a debilitating attack. What if this data was stored on a cloud? Right now there is only a small amount of security used to protect clouds. The chance of this data being compromised is much higher on a cloud than on a computer’s hard drive. But, with an increase in the security on a cloud, the possibility of government agencies adopting cloud computing would most likely increase.

    Before cloud technology can take over the world of data storage, the security issue must be addressed. The number one thing people want to be sure of is that their data is secure. But, as people learn how insecure the Internet can be, they become fearful of moving their data to the Internet on a cloud. If this can be addressed in the near future, more people will feel safe uploading data to a cloud, and a need for an intercloud will be more reasonable.

    However, even if security is placed on a cloud, there will never be a one hundred percent guarantee that information will be secure. Data on hard drives gets lost all the time but people still trust what they know. Once people know how to use clouds they will learn to trust them. It is hard to trust a company with confidential data, especially when that cloud company has complete responsibility for the security of this data. The need for an intercloud is second to the need for people to know that their data is secure.

    It does not matter if the data being stored is for a top-secret branch of the government or a simple word file, security of this data will always be the more pressing matter than being able to transfer this data to another cloud. Once that issue is dealt with, the idea of an intercloud can be devised.

  2. Rey, your post brings up some interesting points and it is a testament to your ability to think critically during an article to be able to formulate your own opinions. That aside, I found it interesting that Hann saw the only problem with cloud computing as the ability to "transfer data." As a young and developing technology I thought he would have been able to find other weaknesses. For example, solely in the month of August, 2012 so strikingly recent, Apple's iCloud and DropBox both had security breaches relating to hackers gaining access to the cloud. In Apple's iCloud, a customer had his entire iCloud completely wiped of information when a hacker masqueraded as said customer to get Apple to change the accounts password. With a new password the hacker took all of the customer's information and left him with none. This was all accomplished, according to Apple, through brute force hacking. DropBox was a victim of the same situation except this time the password stolen by the hacker was not a customer's, but and employee's. Unfortunately, the employee had a, "project document with user email addresses" which he then used to start a spam attack on customer's email accounts.

    Clearly their is questionable security surrounding these cloud programs and consumers need to be more aware of it. Another weakness in the cloud computing machines could be exploited by the companies. For example, "an unethical company might hide terms in cloud contracts that permit it to mine customer data in the name of research or for more nefarious purposes." Now not only is your security being held in question but also your privacy. This is a big deal and something that we need to be aware of. On the other hand, we cannot forget about the amazing advantages of cloud-computing. In the future it will save us money, make our lives more convenient, and allow us to be more productive. Hann's initial worry about interconnectivity will be fixed with more time, but I thought it would be important to give an update of the security problems that you brought up in your blog. Two years after Hann's article security is still a major issue as I am sure it was back when he wrote the article, unless hackers gradually figured out how to hack the cloud, but I find this questionable. Instead, I think Hann just overlooked security so I am glad that you brought it up to enlighten us. As you can see from my further research, the outlook on that front is still bleak. Well done Rey, I enjoyed reading your blog.

    Works Cited:


    Joey Cahalan

  3. Cloud computing seems to be a technological breakthrough for storing information. It is a way that a single person or company can store data through an internet server, eliminating the need for a hard drive. This will save companies an enormous amount of money, because now they can just have monthly subscriptions with cloud companies, such as google.

    Cloud computing does have its positives. The sheer fact that an employee doesn't have to stop his work at the office, now he can take it home with him. He will have full access to his files that are stored on his cloud, instead of his PC, back at the office. It is also good when people are traveling in different countries. They will have full access to their companies information, regardless of their country. This will allow them to handle business easier and make more transactions.

    Although the could be beneficial to many companies, I agree that security could be its biggest downfall. I think that companies should only put information on the cloud to an extent. Anything top secret or detrimental to the company if it got out to the public, should be kept separate. Cyber hackers are relentless and they seem to just keep getting smarter and smarter. They can basically get about anyone inside a stores credit card information from a simple computer in their car, in a parking lot. If they can easily do this, what makes a company think that they wont be able to hack a cloud with their information in it. Until cloud providers are reassuring their customers of 100% security, then I would not trust all my private and important documents to be left on a cloud.

    I think that once cloud providers are able to get security to a maximum, major companies should not rely on the cloud. Once cloud providers get this problem completely fixed, this will change the way people store their information. Its easy access and low prices are driving forces to customers attraction to the cloud.

  4. The common issue that keeps being brought up in regard to cloud computing is security. If data is kept on the cloud than the company is giving up control of it and it might be lost due to human or system error. My opinion on this is that no matter whether data resides in the cloud or on hardware, it’s always going to be at risk. My logic in regard to this is that humans create the systems that hold data, and humans will always make mistakes or miss something.
    I do understand that security is an issue in that companies could keep their data internal through hardware but going onto the cloud necessitates using an outside resource. We’re all in agreement that data is the only piece of information technology left that isn't a commodity. If this is the case, data should be treated as an asset in the same way cash is. Companies work with banks to manage their funds and keep their money safe, so why shouldn't they do the same with their data?
    An article in the New York Times recently ran about women in computer science. The picture that went with the article featured the caption that read something like if the person can’t hack your computer she can always just pick the lock. Hardware does not guarantee security. It may feel better to have a physical barrier between a hacker and your data but those barriers can fail as easily as the virtual barriers that protect data in the cloud.
    I do believe the benefits of the cloud fully outweigh the drawbacks, but like any new technology there are kinks to be worked out. No system is created flawless as all are made by humans, but soon the issues written about in regard to the cloud will fade. The unlimited nature of the cloud and it’s affordability make it irresistible for future use.