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How Surveillance Impacts the Cloud and the Data Center

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As the world becomes more and more digitized, there will be more information, more users and a lot more devices requesting large amounts of data. Now more than ever before, users are continuously connected to the cloud. What privacy and protection challenges does this present when there are an increased number of targets to snoop on?

In recent weeks there’s been widespread discussion about the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs. Although they will be discussed, this post takes a broader look at just how widespread surveillance programs are in addition to government programs. There are still many questions that the end-user (your customer) is asking and there are still many unknowns when it comes to the safety  and privacy of your clients’ data.

Let’s ask some of the questions that are on everyone’s minds, including your clients.

How Might NSA Surveillance Impact the Global Nature of the Cloud?

The idea that your enterprise’s data, i.e. your company’s private information, may not be as safe as originally thought has made a lot of people nervous, including both end-users as well as the data center provider. For the corporate organizations that provide data services, the integrity of the information housed on behalf of customers is of the utmost importance. That’s why when government organizations began to eavesdrop on the cloud and data center providers – naturally there were some unhappy parties.

The conversation around data security and privacy is heating up, as even enterprises employing simple cloud services such as Gmail could be observed. Perhaps the biggest worry is what can’t be known and can’t be disclosed.

From a financial perspective, programs like PRISM can have a very serious impact on U.S companies. The primary reason is that cloud computing continues to be a rapidly growing industry. The August report from The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation points out that these costs can be in the billions of dollars,

“On the low end, U.S. cloud computing providers might lose $21.5 billion over the next three years,” the report states. “This estimate assumes the U.S. eventually loses about 10 percent of foreign market to European or Asian competitors and retains its currently projected market share for the domestic market. On the high end, U.S. cloud computing providers might lose $35.0 billion by 2016. This assumes the U.S. eventually loses 20 percent of the foreign market to competitors and retains its current domestic market share.”

How Are Providers Responding?

Here’s the good news: Organizations which “live in the cloud” and house your enterprise information are actually on their customers’ side. They want to keep this information secure and private. That’s why cloud providers are actively fighting back against intrusive data requests and looking for options.

They have support in some parts of the government, but progress is slow. For example, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is actively pushing legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages. Although by early August, the bill was blocked by legislators. Although the bill would not affect the NSA programs, it would curb the ability of local and federal law enforcement officials to access private online messages.

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About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.