Friday Thought: Who Do You Trust?

Recently, in one of my LinkedIn groups, a member asked folks about outsourcing and cloud computing.  Predictably, the cloud computing naysayers chimed in with their usual argument, which often sounds like “I would never put my data in the cloud because you don’t have control”.

To me, this sounds like an argument from past generations against putting your money in a bank.  The naysayers’ concern is not control, but trust. The naysayers don’t trust the cloud provider with their data.  They don’t trust that the cloud provider will really delete information when you hit the delete key.  They don’t trust that the administrators will not access data.

And yet, these same folks fail to look at their own environments in the same way.

In a Windows server environment, the “Domain Administrator” has complete access to everything — every piece of data, every piece of user information.  In most small and mid-size enterprises, everybody on your IT team as Domain Administrator privileges.  A disgruntled team member can not only destroy your data, but can destroy the backups you would need to recover.

Use an IT service firm or the services of an MSP?  Chances are, one or more of their employees have “Domain Administrator” or other rights that gives them access to some or all of your data.  How do you know that the help desk staffer at your IT provider will not get upset with his boss and seek revenge by destroying or stealing your data?

Clearly if you don’t trust an employee, you let them go.  And no business owner would sign up for outside services if they did not trust the vendor enough to also trust the vendors’ employees.  Cloud computing is no different. Well … maybe a little different.

Unlike your network administrator, the vast majority of cloud computing vendors have no access to your data.  They do not need access to provide you with service.  Reputable providers include data privacy and security clauses in their contracts and their service level agreements.

Unlike most in-house systems, cloud computing solutions are designed to keep everyone but you out of your data.  Google, for example, obfuscates every occurrence of every piece of data on every server.  Most SMEs cannot afford anything close to the levels of encryption and security included in the architecture of most cloud computing services.

Control and trust go hand in hand.  And, cloud computing may not offer the best solutions for every business, or even yours.  When assessing your options, consider the benefits and risk of the cloud with the real benefits and risks of your current network and systems.