A Cloud Falls Over the Cloud

The Economist notes that problems with Amazon and Sony have raised real issues over the advisability of storing lots of sensitive data in the cloud:

The two crises have also raised questions about the speed and quality of information provided by tech companies when confronted with systems failures. Details of what happened at Amazon Web Services, which offers computing services and data storage over the internet “cloud”, were still emerging as we went to press. But it seems that a serious problem in a data centre in northern Virginia triggered an outage that affected some of the firms using that centre’s infrastructure, including Foursquare, a social-media company, and a number of other prominent start-ups. Some data seem to have been lost permanently.

Sony’s problem was slightly different.  They own their own servers, but provide services through the cloud:

Services were suspended on April 20th after an intrusion was detected, but Sony then took almost a week to admit the risks to users’ personal data. The company insisted it had taken this long for it to realise the seriousness of the threat. But this claim was met with scepticism; and Sony’s failure to encrypt all of its customers’ data may bring it lawsuits and regulatory penalties.

If the security and credibility issues are not addressed quickly and effectively, it could lead to fewer and fewer firms trusting the cloud with data, increasing costs and decreasing the flexibility of IT operations throughout the economy.

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