Should we move our data to cloud ?

Cloud service is gaining more and more popularity for both individual and enterprise users. But still less than 10% of world’s data are on cloud [1]. Many people are worried about their data security on cloud especially news about data breach on cloud happen from time to time. I will say cloud is definitely safer compared to most of the private devices.

As a PhD student, I used Dropbox for all my files on all computers. One of the reasons is that data’s or files’ missing is a common situation among my colleagues. Last week, my officemate’s new Macbook Pro went down due to a software update. We spent several hours to bring her data back since her computer store all the research results from beginning of this year and she did not back it up since she thought this is an only half-year old device. It would waste her half a year if we did not manage to recover the data. Another story I heard is that files on a friend’s computer are hijacked and my friend need to pay to recover his files, which is one of the common issues mentioned in class. These issues are quite common for individual users and cause people’s huge lost in terms of both time and money. Enterprise and companies would face similar issues and lost even more.

These stories won’t happen if their files are on cloud. Firstly, data on cloud typically would have multiple copies on multiple data centers [2]. Secondly, as mentioned in class, those cloud service providers have hired a lot of security experts to fight with hackers. Thirdly, they will typically use many techniques to protect their data. One example is that these cloud providers will split each data files into chunks and they will be separately encrypted and stored in different centers, where hackers will only get access to random blocks [1]. Another security advantage of cloud service is that companies need to keep upgrading and maintaining their servers with their scales go up, which dramatically increases their cost. They can easily scale their storage and computing resource on cloud without worrying about security.

There are two common concerns regarding cloud service. One is that whether these cloud providers will have access to their customers’ data. The answer is no. They will keep the data safe through encryption and users will control their own encryption keys. Users will control who has the access. Encryption also prevents those crimes conducted by employees inside cloud providers. Another concern is about the news about data breach happened on cloud. The truth is that it’s usually due to users’ problem, where hackers get their passwords from their personal device.