Privacy: The Cloud's Achilles' Heel? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
5/20/2010
05:07 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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Privacy: The Cloud's Achilles' Heel?

Security and privacy are both important issues in relation to cloud computing. And while it's easy to lump them together, security and privacy are really two separate issues, related but different. They need to be treated that way.

Security and privacy are both important issues in relation to cloud computing. And while it's easy to lump them together, security and privacy are really two separate issues, related but different. They need to be treated that way.

Security in a cloud computing engagement is emerging as an essential factor, one that should be addressed by both parties. IT organizations are beginning to realize they can't opt out of their security responsibilities because a third party has taken over processing chores. And service providers are getting the message that security is a top priority for most enterprise customers.

Privacy, on the other hand, has a tendency to fall between the cracks. That's because it has its own set of issues, some of which are not easy to reconcile or even recognize. A recent InformationWeek article quoted a privacy expert on the problem:

"Some cloud providers say they can store data anywhere around the world, and they won't tell you where it is," says Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. "That's a real problem. What if they decide to store data in a country where you have a dispute or in a country where the government wants to look into your data?"

Brendon Lynch, senior director of privacy strategy for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, mentioned this dilemma in a blog: "[P]articularly given the global nature of the data flows inherent in cloud computing, there are a number of policy questions concerning how people, organizations and governments handle information and interactions in this environment."

Those questions have to do with accountability and liability, such as, who's responsible for oversight of privacy regulation and who pays the price when it's violated? These questions and responsibilities are right now being raised by concerned customers and addressed by service providers, and they are being brought to the attention of government organizations, which will have to deal with conflicting geographical privacy regulations in a global online environment, and sooner rather than later.Security and privacy are both important issues in relation to cloud computing. And while it's easy to lump them together, security and privacy are really two separate issues, related but different. They need to be treated that way.

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