Regulating the Future: Security in the Cloud

Data PadlockOne of the top reasons that companies are skeptical of using cloud hosting services is that they’re worried about security. In theory, these sorts of basic concerns make some sense: if you’re no longer managing your data from a physical data-centre so you don’t know how it’s protected. Most firms these days use some sort of office security to protect their physical files, so why would you relinquish your virtual data to an outsourced centre where you can’t keep an eye on it?

Unquestionably security is an issue for cloud computing providers, not just in the physical sense but virtually too. As cloud networks get bigger, data centres get more complex and different clouds start to overlap in their usage, therefore separating what can and can’t be accessed by any given individual could start to become problematic.

At the moment, a lot of the onus falls on the individual cloud hosting provider and the one-to-one relationship between a host and a customer guarantees a good level of security. High-level and complex data encryptions protect information from hackers while physical vaults protect the servers themselves. The level of protection afforded by specialist cloud hosting providers is of a considerably higher quality than elsewhere.

However, the virtual nature of the cloud does prose problems: clouds can quite easily transcend international borders and work between legal systems in different nation states. It starts to become unclear whether the host or the users of the cloud are responsible for the information on it and there are undoubtedly legal issues to be addressed here in the future.

On a grand scale, issues of intellectual property start to become complicated when clouds interlink over nations. If, for example, a multinational firm runs a money-laundering scheme on cloud between various countries, where can they appropriately be trialled and, more to the point, how can the regulators come to grips with these possibilities?

Regulating the cloud securely and safely is a balance between promoting the growth of innovative work and also protecting the rights of each individual to a safe computing environment. There are unquestionably challenges for legislators out there and how the cloud is regulated on an international scale is already playing a part in its potential to grow and will continue to do so over the coming years.

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