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Disadvantages of Cloud Storage Security

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/18/2010

With the rise of cloud computing, various services like cloud storage are rapidly gaining momentum as well. There are many pros to hosting information on a cloud. However, there is another side to the coin - this article looks at the various disadvantages of cloud storage security.

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    What is Cloud Storage?

    Cloud computing is essentially an amalgam of various computing services, made available to various users via a network. Although the definition is remarkably similar to Internet services, there is a vast difference. Clouds are made up of various nodes which are interfaced with each other for optimal efficiency. The user is not shown these various components; merely an abstracted interface which then sends the requests into the cloud and receives the responses accordingly.

    Cloud storage is a storage service offered through a cloud. There can be different configurations of storage servers, spread over a wide geographical area, essentially conveying the impression of practically limitless storage capacity. The main advantage of using cloud storage is that it is proves to be a flexible option for those enterprises which cannot immediately estimate the amount of storage capacity required.

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    Cloud Storage Security

    One of the defining aspects of cloud computing, and by extension cloud storage, is the abstraction that surrounds its structure. Trusting sensitive data to a cloud is akin to a leap of faith for many businesses, mainly because there is no visual representation of the actual physical location of the databases. Additionally, the users are unaware of the security measures that are put into place within the cloud. Therefore there is only the word of the cloud storage service provider, as assurance of security. Understandably, many businesses find the concept of cloud storage intriguing, but are still wary of entrusting their sensitive data to a service provider.

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    Disadvantages of Cloud Storage Security

    As cloud storage providers can have multiple clients, one valid concern is that one client’s data is stored on the same hardware as another’s. Therefore, if one client’s data is compromised, there are good chances of the other client’s data being compromised as well. To overcome this potential problem, certain providers use discreet devices for each client.

    Encryption, authentication and authorization are important components of any security infrastructure, the cloud being no exception. However, since the cloud service provider applies and enforces these security measures, clients feel insecure not knowing which other client also has the same measures in place. One solution is to use different encryption keys for each individual client, however it is wholly dependent on the service provider.

    As cloud computing is very much in its nascent stages, there is uncertainty with regard to its sustainability and reliability. Many businesses would be taking an unprecedented risk in storing their critical information on an infrastructure that has not proven to be reliable. Data that is unavailable for extended periods of time can be as crippling to an enterprise as data that is compromised.

    In a nutshell, the biggest problems with cloud storage security is the lack of transparency in the cloud and the users only have the assurance of storage providers as guarantees of security.