Common examples of cloud computing include:
As well as delivering management and sometimes cost benefits, the cloud also facilitates flexible working practices such as home and other off-site working.
Whatever tasks or applications you use the cloud for, it is vital to protect your own and any customer data that resides there. Analyst firm Gartner has identified seven perceived risks of cloud computing:
Keeping sensitive information with a third party has inherent risks because you are bypassing your company’s own IT infrastructure and support team.
Customers are responsible for their own security and data integrity.
You do not know where the information is physically being stored; it could be anywhere in the world.
Your data is stored alongside other people’s data and an encryption failure could make your data completely unusable.
What happens in a disaster? Is the data being replicated?
Inappropriate or illegal activity might be hard or impossible to investigate.
What happens if your provider is bought out or bankrupted?
You can either choose to host applications and infrastructure selectively in the cloud, or opt for a provider who provides a total cloud offering.
Choosing a cloud provider
Research the cloud provider market thoroughly and use only experienced, well-resourced companies who have an excellent reputation and preferably, come recommended. They must be able to help you as your needs change and your organisation grows, understand your business model and demands and be able to communicate with you in a way you understand. The provider should be ISO 27001 accredited, which will ensure that your data is hosted in an environment that meets international baseline information security management standards of confidentiality, integrity and availability.
Protecting your presence in the cloud
Apart from making a wise informed choice of cloud provider, you should observe the following precautions to maintain data safety, integrity and availability:
Cloud hosting contracts
You should have a cloud hosting contract that clearly defines: