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26 September 2023

Pros and cons of protecting data in the cloud

As more and more organisations become data driven, companies must ensure that this information is always accessible, safe and secure. This is especially so if part of the data is personal, which makes it subject to special guarantees and safekeeping in order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Protecting data in the cloud

What advantages does storing this information in the cloud have? What are the cons?

Meanwhile, the adoption of the cloud continues to grow worldwide and in Europe, where more than 40% of companies with over 10 employees use these technologies (although this figure is slightly above 30% in Spain), compared to less than 20% in 2014, according to Eurostat data.

Advantages of storing data in the cloud

  • Availability. One of the main advantages of storing data in the cloud is that it is always available, and independent of the location from which users need to access it. In addition, since backup copies are made frequently, this information is always available, updated and easily recoverable if there is an incident.
  • No need to transport it. When you store data in a local repository (whether on a USB drive, computer, server or your own data centre), you sometimes have to move it to make it accessible to other repositories or users. This doesn't happen in the cloud, since you don't need to move the data from one place to another.
  • No loss of data, especially physical data. Let's just say that, with cloud storage, there are no physical servers or external hard drives, meaning it can't be lost or misplaced. This limits the likelihood that data will be lost due to various events (fire, flooding, losses, misplacements, etc.).
  • Redundancy. The data centres of cloud storage providers have multiple redundancies to ensure that your data is always secure and accessible. They also use a number of additional security layers, such as encryption, to further safeguard your files.
  • Backups. Cloud services usually have several copies of their customers' data distributed in different data centres. They also use encryption techniques when creating and transferring data.
  • Authentication. Access is also secure, with data protection standards and tools typically in place to authenticate and authorise users to access specific data.
  • GDPR compliance. European data centres are also subject to European data protection legislation (GDPR), which provides an additional level of protection.

Disadvantages of storing data in the cloud

- Internet dependence. If there is any kind of problem with your internet connection, or it is interrupted, it is difficult to access your files. Slow download speeds and bottlenecks can drastically affect data retrieval. It is true that vendors have service level agreements (SLA) to precisely define the duration of any planned downtime for each service in a given year, but sometimes, a slow connection may depend on your ISP.

- Access management. The cloud may not be the ideal (only) solution, especially if you have a large amount of data stored. In general, you should go with an IT services manager to monitor the data, ensure it is properly configured and that access levels are as they should be.

- Sensitivity of the data. Although security measures are increasingly robust, sensitive files or personal information need to be protected and monitored. The technical, physical and administrative (and legal) requirements to protect this data are strict. In addition, depending on where in the world it is located, data stored in the cloud could be scattered among several different data centres all over the world.

- Legal compliance. To achieve certain levels of compliance, data sometimes has to be stored on site where it is easily accessible.

- Target for hackers. Cloud storage providers are hacked more frequently. Simply by being connected to the Internet makes the data more vulnerable.

- Subject to third-party failures. Although cloud services have high security standards and encryption techniques, you are basically entrusting your data to the servers of others. Therefore, you have to accept the risk of failure in an organisation that is not yours, that you have no control over and whose deficiencies you may not be fully aware of.

- Vendor problems. Cloud service providers sometimes offer their services in a way that makes it hard to return a company's data to its own servers, or even to another cloud provider. Data transfer rates are also much slower when extracting data.

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