Google CIO Ben Fried recently created an uproar in the IT world after he told AllThingsD that Google employees aren’t allowed to use non-Google cloud technologies like Dropbox at work due to data security concerns.
“The important thing to understand about Dropbox,” Fried said, “is that when your users use it in a corporate context, your corporate data is being held in someone else’s data center.”
Fried’s message may seem hypocritical—and downright foolish—considering Google is among the world’s largest providers and marketers of cloud-based technologies, from Google Drive to Google Cloud Platform. The company assures businesses every day that it’s safe and smarter to store important files and even sensitive business information on the cloud, thanks to its ultra-secure remote servers and the ability to access data from anywhere at any time.
But Fried’s comments beg a question: If the cloud (beyond Google products, of course) isn’t secure enough for Google, should any business trust the cloud to store important documents and data?
Thomas Trappler, a corporate IT security adviser and director of software licensing for UCLA, recently told The Seattle Times that businesses need to be more cautious when deciding where to store sensitive information and data. Cloud technologies are always marketed to businesses as safe, but realistically not all cloud storage is alike. Providers from Amazon to Rackspace to smaller cloud technology vendors use different security protocols and encryption methods and take various levels of precaution to protect data stored on their servers. The world is full of hackers looking to steal data and spies looking for information, and companies can’t take that risk too lightly.
While it’s difficult for businesses—especially small businesses—to adequately vet the data security measures of a cloud provider, Trappler recommends that companies ask questions about encryption measures and security protocols and find out who’s liable if a data breach occurs. He’s disheartened by a study by the Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm, that found that half of companies surveyed don't take security risks into consideration before striking deals with cloud providers.
Trappler adds: “It’s easy to overlook security because of the virtual nature of the cloud, but really your data is going over the Internet to another computer and not to some magical world where everything’s going to be fine."
Read more articles on cloud computing.
Photo: Google CIO Ben Fried by Getty Images