As Cloud Services Continue To Proliferate, so Do Their Vulnerabilities — Here’s Why, and What We Can Do About It
As someone who has played a central role in bringing fast, customizable, and cost-effective cloud computing capabilities to millions of global users and tens of thousands of businesses, I have seen firsthand the many benefits cloud services provide for security, economics and speed of digital delivery.
However, as the use of cloud services has proliferated, it has also introduced new potential vulnerabilities to users and systems that rely on the cloud. These include cyberattacks and data breaches. As someone who has extensive experience in digital sovereignty, cybersecurity, network infrastructure, and up-and-coming technologies such as artificial intelligence, I understand the importance of taking a precautionary approach to development and deployment to ensure the performance and peace of mind that users have come to expect.
One way that businesses and entities can address these risks and preempt issues is by looking at the fine print before selecting a cloud provider or launching new cloud initiatives. These include security, cost, performance, scalability, data sovereignty, data sprawl, and regulatory compliance. Cloud computing providers and customers must ensure that their data is secure and protected from cyber threats, and users such as defense and/or national security agencies may be wary of their cloud providers’ security protocols, storage methods, and/or data access methods. Providers must also ensure that their services are reliable and can handle high levels of traffic, and companies must be able to scale their cloud services as their needs change.
Another important consideration is data sovereignty, as data stored and managed outside of a nation’s borders may conflict with a nation’s data sovereignty and/or data privacy regulations. Governments, national security, and defense agencies, and international corporations and institutions that deal with sensitive data are rightfully concerned about data sprawl and the difficulties of controlling data that is spread across multiple cloud regions. Additionally, privacy-focused users tend to require additional regulations or safeguards related to cloud computing to ensure compliance with local laws and industry-specific or national security needs.
In spite of these risks, there is a silver lining to be found, and I don’t foresee cloud adoption slowing anytime soon.
The cloud offers cost savings, flexibility, scalable resources, user-friendly payment options, and easy and secure data access from anywhere in the world — making cloud computing a central component of modern business.
The growing demand for data storage and analytics and cloud-based AI offerings are driving businesses to cloud computing, and there are now more eco-friendly cloud options available to the environmentally conscious user, such as cloud centers and servers that run on renewables such as wind and solar.
Many in the industry believe that cloud growth and adoption will start to taper or fall in the face of higher costs and economic and political uncertainty. That, as economies weaken and businesses become more cost-conscious, they may be less likely to invest in new technologies. But I don’t foresee that. As someone who has helped expand the user base of Office 365 to over 100 million people around the world and built and led multiple Azure engineering teams and business units, I predict the cloud is here to stay. Additionally, without cloud computing, businesses would have to self-manage their data centers and IT infrastructure, which would be costly and time-consuming. Users would also be limited in their ability to collaborate and share data — and the pace of innovation, data collection, research, product development, and other critical business functions would be incrementally slow.