Cloud security concerns arise amid PRISM fallout

European Union officials have recently raised concerns regarding the security of data stored in the cloud.

Although the number of businesses leveraging cloud services for their data storage needs has increased over the past few years, concerns have lingered about the security of that information. Most of these fears have been driven by the thought that when data is placed into the cloud, the original owner has lost all tangible control over it. The recent revealing of the NSA's PRISM project has only further exacerbated those concerns, leading many security experts to question just how secure cloud data storage really is and consider alternative data archiving solutions

Cloud-based services hosted in the United States or European Union such as Google Docs and Dropbox have been widely used by businesses across the globe, but now company heads are beginning to doubt the security of that data, Information Daily reported. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could potentially allow the American government to request access to a business' stored cloud data without notifying company officials. These rights can be extended to monitor EU cloud services as well. In the wake of the PRISM fiasco, Switzerland has emerged as a desirable location for cloud services as the country is not a member of the EU and is not beholden to U.S. laws. According to the director of a Swiss offshore hosting company, his organization's revenue streams have grown 45 percent since these recent fears have risen.

The fallout from PRISM
Some European officials have suggested that the continent take control of its cloud computing capabilities. SiliconRepublic reported that European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes recently recommended that EU members construct a European cloud network to ensure the security of sensitive information. At a recent meeting of the European Cloud Partnership Board, Kroes warned that fallout from the PRISM project could result in EU companies dropping the services of America cloud providers, according to ZDNet. 

"Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets, if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?" Kroes stated. "Front or back door – it doesn't matter – any smart person doesn't want the information shared at all." She continued, "If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government or their assurances, then maybe they won't trust US cloud providers either. That is my guess. And if I am right then there are multi-billion euro consequences for American companies."

With the security of data stored in the cloud in doubt, individuals and businesses may want to consider alternative offline solutions. For instance, optical storage can provide users with a data storage option that cannot be remotely accessed by an unauthorized user. Using a Blu-ray burner and media, individuals can back up their sensitive information without fear of that data getting out into the open.

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