Since 2009, I have been giving talks around the country about cloud computing based on my article, “Heads in the Cloud”. My presentation, “Nobody Tells me Anything Around Here”, tells the story of how my school and lots of schools around the country are using cloud-based solutions to improve communication and administration everyday. I go through how my school uses services such as Google Apps, Aladdin, Scribd, MeetingMix, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and more to make sure staff and parents know what’s going on all the time wherever they are.
At some point in my presentation the first hand will be raised in the air and the question will be:
Just how secure is it?
The following is my answer.
Let me explain.
Schools generally store private information in two ways – on paper or electronically. Let’s take a child’s address for example. In the paper environment, this is usually stored in a cabinet in an office. In the cloud environment, it is usually stored somewhere on the Internet. Now what happens if somebody wants that information?
Everyone is probably familiar with the electronic way. All you’ve got to do is hack into the cloud and steal the information.
So how many of you have hacked into Google’s servers to find out a random piece of information? Wouldn’t it just be easier to physically break into the school, break the lock of the filing cabinet and take the information? Of course it would, but for some reason, people tend to be more skeptical of online storage.
To be honest, I’ve noticed the same attitude to email versus post. Email is much more reliable than post yet some people believe the opposite. When someone says that they haven’t received your email, the likelihood is that they are lying.
But back to storing data on the cloud. If somebody really wants a piece of information, they will get it. However, it is much harder to get electronic information stored on the Internet than in a physical location such as a filing cabinet because when information is on the cloud, it is off the premises and is not physically there at all!
Another reason that I trust cloud storage more than physical storage is that security is the number one item on these services’ agenda. In fact, if somebody does hack into their system, even once, their whole trust is gone. Just look at the case with Sony recently – their reputation is in tatters. It is within Google’s interest that they are never compromised. Such is the lack of trust in cloud solutions that one mistake can spell the end of a company.
In some ways it’s probably a good thing that people tend not to trust cloud-based storage. It means that the companies supplying the services have to remain vigilant. However, I’m keeping faith in their systems until I’m proved wrong.
Last Update: August 8, 2017