Who “owns” our stuff in the cloud?

Week 4 of my class on Cloud Computing covered current cloud technologies.  As I was researching and reading about these technologies, the issue of security came up (as I am sure it will for all things cloud related for the duration of the course).  At the same time, on my Facebook wall I kept seeing people post this statement informing Facebook that they do not have permission to share or sell their photos, information, etc.  These posts seem to stem from a hoax article that has been going around stating that every must post this disclaimer or Facebook will take all your stuff and use it how they want.

This begs the question, who “owns” the data we store in the cloud?  When we save our information in the cloud, it’s no longer stored on our local equipment.  We have moved it into the hands of the cloud provider who is storing it and managing it.  Most (hopefully ALL) cloud providers have a Terms of Service statement/agreement that lays out exactly what they can and cannot do with your information.  And it’s a good practice to read this agreement and know exactly how they may or may not use your information before you start uploading sensitive data and personal photos to their servers.

I came across an article by Brad Linder (http://liliputing.com/2011/07/dropbox-cloud-storage-and-who-owns-your-files.html) that talks a little more in-depth about this issue.  His article explains that most providers are not claiming ownership over your stuff.  They are, however, explaining in their terms of service that they may share it (if you post a photo on flickr, you may also have it linked to share on facebook, etc.).  The bottom line is that when you store your files, music, photos, etc. with a cloud provider you ARE giving up some of the control.  And as the article states, if you want to maintain COMPLETE control over your data – you may want to keep it stored on a local hard drive.  The downside to this complete control scenario is that you will not be able to benefit from the cloud and all it has to offer.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  I know for me, being a bit of a control freak, it was difficult for me to transition to the cloud.  But, I did it.  I’m ok with it, and if I have something that is really private that I don’t want there to be a chance of anyone getting a hold of – I probably will keep it stored on a local hard drive and secured in my physical presence.  At least until the cloud offers me a fort knox solution that meets the needs of the control freak inside of me.

Software as a Service: Office Suites in the Cloud

This week in class one of the things we looked at is SaaS (Software as a Service) in the cloud, so I want to talk about something related to that in my blog today.  Software as a Service is software that is licensed on a subscription basis and centrally hosted.  It’s also referred to as software “on demand”.

Almost a year ago, I got a new laptop.  The new laptop presented me with some changes.  I had to get used to Windows 8.  (I still don’t like it!)  I needed to find a productivity suite to replace my version of MS Office.  (No disk drive on my computer meant I couldn’t install my old software!).

I was surprised to learn that Office 365 (the newest product offering) was a subscription service “in the cloud”.  I couldn’t even just install it and own it.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that.  On the one hand, I didn’t have to shell out a huge chunk of money for the program.  On the other hand, I don’t “own” the software.

I do like Microsoft 365.  I like it a lot.  I like the fact that while it’s “on demand”, I can still access it on my desktop without having to go through a browser.  I also like that it plays well with many other programs that I use, like my screen recording software program.  It seems to integrate easily with a lot of cloud based services as well, it’s easy to insert a YouTube video into your PowerPoint presentation for example.

But I have a confession.  I don’t use it exclusively.  I find myself spending a lot of time using the Google Drive products because many of my business associates do not own Office and it’s easier to share files if they are on the same platform.  The plus side, I can upload an Office document into Google Drive and convert it to Google’s format.

It’s nice to know that there are free cloud based products available as well.  It makes sharing things with friends and co-workers much easier.  Not to mention, having cloud storage is in the same place as your software makes things pretty handy.  What is your favorite Productivity Software?  Have you switched to a Software as a Service product yet?

Here’s an article that talks about several of the productivity suites that are offered in the cloud if you are still searching for a product to meet your needs:  http://www.technologyguide.com/feature/cloud-services-roundup-the-most-popular-cloud-office-suites-for-businesses/

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog.  My name is Sheri.  I live in Iowa and am a single mom, business owner, Odyssey of the Mind coach and full time student.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog.

I’ll be honest, it’s a class assignment!  But, I do like to talk/write so maybe I’ll keep things interesting….we shall see!

So….what will I be blogging about?

I’m not certain what path this blog site will take right now.  But I do have a confession….I OBSESSED with cyber security.  If I wasn’t so far into my degree program already, I would have changed the focus to cyber security.

Security is something that is a huge deal, and it’s not going anywhere.  The more secure we think are networks are, the more sneaky the hackers get.  It just simply doesn’t matter how secure you think your network is.  It’s not.  There’s a way around your defenses, and someone out there somewhere is going to find a way in if you can’t stay a step ahead.  It’s a war.  The more dependent we are on technology and the more we entrust it to hold our information, the harder we will need to work to keep that information secure.

With that said, I’m going to start out this blog with an article I found online.

The article is short and sweet.  It was written by Ivan Harris and talks about what he shared when he hosted a seminar in London recently on cloud security.  He was joined by Tony Richards, the head of security at G-Cloud and Ian Gale from Bristol City Council on a panel discussion.  The four things they recommend are building your knowledge, being a smart buyer, busting the ‘in-house is best’ myth and prioritizing the quick wins.

The article goes into a little detail on each of these points which I’m going to briefly paraphrase.  Building your knowledge is an idea that suggests reducing the amount of data that is “over-protected” and is not sensitive.  Instead focusing on making sure that the really sensitive data is taken care of first and done the right way.

Being a smart buyer is a good idea, no matter what you are talking about.  Do your research, know what you need and make sure what you are buying meets those needs.  In cloud computing, make sure you know what security is offered from the vendor you are looking into and what you need to do to secure things on your end to compliment what is available.

As far as the ‘in-house is best’ myth…just because your network is inside your own walls does not make it better.  There are benefits to cloud services that can assist to keep your data safe.  Cloud service providers would go out of business if they didn’t do their best to provide secure solutions.  That doesn’t mean you should leave it all up to the providers though, make sure you know what part you play.

The point, prioritizing the quick wins, can also apply to any goals you set in life I suppose.  🙂  Make the transition to the cloud gradual.  Choose what you want to migrate and start there.  Do it right, and you will gain confidence to move on to the next thing you want to migrate.  As you go along, you will also hopefully gain some knowledge that will come in handy with the rest of the migration.

What are your thoughts on these ways to overcome security concerns in the cloud?


References:
Harris, I.  (November 25, 2014).  Four key ways to overcome security concerns in the cloud.  Retrieved from:  http://www.cloudcomputing-news.net/news/2014/nov/25/four-key-ways-overcome-security-concerns-cloud/