4 Ways Cloud Companies Take Control Of Customer Data

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Macbook on a desk
Image credit: Dave Fayram from Flickr.

Cloud storage is convenient, whether it’s used for personal data storage or business needs for a large corporation. Most user concerns about cloud storage center on data security and backups for disaster recovery. This point raises another issue to worry about as well — are you in control or is your cloud service provider controlling your data?

They Can Interfere With Legal Compliance

Given concerns over privacy and data protection, significant legal risks can offset cloud computing’s convenience. Your cloud provider may play a role in this legal vulnerability: In many cases your data security is entirely dependent on the encryption and defense capabilities of the cloud provider. Be clear about the vendor’s legal liability if a breach occurs as well as what measures are in place to protect your data.

Many legal experts warn against storing any personally identifiable information in the cloud, such as names, addresses, birth dates, or Social Security numbers. Medical and financial records, including banking information, are also a dangerous commodity. If you must store files in the cloud, make sure they are securely encrypted. Data breaches can impact your business and expose you to expensive litigation.

They Can Outsource Your Data Storage 

When you choose a cloud storage vendor, know exactly where your data will be going and who is protecting it. Many budget-conscious businesses use consumer-grade cloud companies instead of those optimized for business use. Consumer cloud storage platforms often use third-party providers for data storage.

In contrast, business-grade cloud storage vendors understand the need for data encryption, can offer flexible packages tailored to your individual usage, and have more extensive legal liability and more motivation to keep your data secure.

They Could Hold Your Data Hostage 

Even the best business agreements have the potential to turn sour. The legal ownership of data is becoming a murky issue, and withholding your data is a strategy that some cloud storage providers use to keep their customers.

The best way to protect against having your data held hostage or deleted as you plan your exit strategy is to use a business-grade cloud provider instead of a consumer storage provider.

They Can Allow Loopholes in the Terms and Conditions 

Many people fail to completely read through the terms and conditions of their cloud storage contracts before signing them, despite cloud data security’s shared responsibility model. A thorough contract should clearly define every issue that may arise during the term of service with the cloud storage provider. This type of contract will cover legal liabilities if a data breach or data loss occurs, and it will establish who is responsible for ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.

Server locations and data ownership should be covered as well. These provisions will help your company to properly use the service, get your money’s worth, and protect your future interests.

As more businesses transition data storage to the cloud, the legal ramifications of who owns the data are increasingly under dispute. Failure to keep control of your company’s data not only puts that asset at risk, but it also puts your customers at risk from vendors who seek to exploit that data for their own benefit. You can protect your business and your data by signing a contract that is clear, thorough, and enforceable.