Critical Risks and Challenges of Cloud Computing
Since cloud computing is almost compulsory in this era for business operations, virtually every organization uses in one way or the other. As much as there are many benefits of cloud computing, cloud adoption also brings in various risks and challenges. As organizations take steps to invest on the cloud to solve their problems, concerns around availability and connectivity as well as regulatory and security observance are the impending risks and challenges to adoption.
What’s more, acquiring the cloud with the highest performance value for an enterprise may prove complicated and expensive depending on the applications that are used. Therefore, managing the risks and challenges associated with having sensitive data managed by an outsider is a necessity.
Let’s look at the various risks and challenges of cloud computing as you look into your cloud options.
Data Security and Privacy
Data protection is among the biggest concerns in cloud computing. When confidential information is hosted by cloud service providers, it means that a considerable amount of the end user’s security and privacy control is transferred to the cloud vendor. It is essential to ensure the cloud provider understands the end user’s security and privacy needs, which normally presents the hugest challenge.
The risk is that confidential information is shared with an outside party and thus, it’s always advisable for cloud computing users to ensure that their providers are aware of certain data security and privacy rules and regulations. Hence, data security and privacy remains one of the major worries when it comes to the risks and challenges of cloud computing.
Operational Security (Cyber Attacks)
Another fear of cloud based services is operational security which is closely related to cyber attacks. Any data stored on the internet is at risk of cyber attack, and it can be highly devastating on the cloud where sizable amount of data is stored. Due to the size and importance of the cloud environment, security threats are highly imminent and can be problematic whenever there is security breach.
The high threat levels are because of the frequent targets by bot malware, virtual machines and brute force attacks. A vulnerability assessment on the provider’s overall security measures against external attacks is an effective way of ensuring that data on the cloud is adequately protected. Even as much as most cloud providers have stringent security measures, cyber attacks are always looming.
Record Retention Requirements
If at all there are any matters to do with record retention requirements while considering adopting the cloud, then it will be a challenging factor. Thus, it is fundamental to ensure the cloud vendor considers what they are and so they can conform to them. Also, there is the aspect of what really happens when the service provider decides to shut down the business or a choice is made to terminate contract with the cloud provider. In such as case, the challenge would be the absolute guarantee of getting back all data without it being shared or used by third parties.
Availability of Data and Business Continuity
The most recent risks to using cloud solutions for business are data availability and business continuity in cases where there is loss of internet connectivity. The concern is associated with knowing the available controls for ensuring internet connectivity. If at all there is internet connectivity vulnerability, access to the cloud provider can be terminated until the problem is rectified. This can adversely affect availability of data and business continuity. Law enforcement agencies may also seize the data-hosting sever, which may contribute to service interruption.
The hosting of data and IT resources on the cloud transfers most of the disaster recovery plans to the cloud provider. Accordingly, the cloud computing company’s disaster recovery capabilities to a great extent determines the user’s disaster recovery measures. The challenge and risk here is that if the service provider’s cloud platform is knocked out by let’s say, an internal system issue or with malicious attackers, data could be permanently lost. Such cases have happened in the past, which makes it vital to always back up important data or persisting on data loss legal action agreement to avoid any damages if the cloud disaster recovery permanently fails.
One of the primary benefits that come with cloud computing, especially the public cloud, is the unrelated multiple sharing of CPU, storage, namespace, and memory. This brings about an enormous privacy matter for most of the cloud users. Risk of private data and shared resources accidentally getting into the hands of other people is relatively possible. Because there is shared access, a simple flaw can allow other people or an attacker to view others data or even take on other peoples identity.
Various vulnerability cases have been reported whereby people have seen other people’s data from what was meant to be a new storage space. Shared access will therefore remain a big problem and challenge, especially for the public cloud.
Security breaches from the inside are equally on the rise just like cyber attacks. The shared access, as discussed earlier, heightens the risk of other employees or people accessing your cloud. The case of 2 million customer records breach at Vodafone is a wake-up call that privileged user access can result in insider attack. When a person or an employee gets access to others cloud, then everything from secret information to data and intellectual property becomes available for anyone to obtain. Hence, cloud environments are at high risk of insider attacks as other people or moles can pose as cloud administrators to gain access to the cloud and steal any virtual machine unnoticed.
The theme of “data ownership” presents a risk in cloud computing which comes as a surprise to most cloud users. Often, the users are not the only owners of the data since stored data is in the custody of the cloud provider. Most of the cloud’s contract clauses specify that owning the data is one of the ways for ensuring the data is protected, and provides them with more legal protection if there arises any kind of nonconformity.
As opposed to a data center manned by an in-house IT unit, the cloud is located outside the user’s environment and is maintained by third party service provider. The provider takes charge of everything from implementing all updates to security management. In other words, any user benefiting from services of the cloud or even considers adopting the cloud has to accept the risk of sharing their data.
Lack of Standardization
The principal question cloud users would keep on asking is how safe is the cloud? Well, this question simply shades light on the challenge of various provider security features as there is a common lack of cloud standardization. Many facets are in play when it comes to matters of cloud safety as the regulations and systems governing the cloud services provider differ.
There are no clearly outlined guidelines that direct the operations of cloud providers. The general outcome is that different cloud providers are built differently, which means the definition of a “safe cloud system” among the providers widely varies. As a result, the lack of cloud standardization signifies a challenge in cloud computing.
- Expensive for Big Enterprises
Well established enterprises may find the transactions of the cloud complicated and expensive contingent upon their subscription level and the applications they are using. Most especially, enterprises that need to build a strong online presence or rely on mission-critical support systems have to invest in expensive cloud solutions.
Such solutions must have the capability of offering high levels of protection commensurate with the business demands to ensure smooth business operations. So, for big enterprises centered on mission-critical IT support systems, the use of cloud computing services can be a challenge in terms of cost.
Is there any other risk or challenge in cloud computing that we forgot to mention here. Please let us know your views in comments below.