Microsoft’s perspective on data protection in cloud computing

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In this article, I will try to explain Microsoft’s position on cloud computing and data protection – by which Microsoft believes that governments around the world should unite to create a unified policy. Microsoft is a leading cloud services provider – not to mention the popular SkyDrive, in addition to Office 365 and Windows Azure. Most of us use SkyDrive’s free 25 GB to store all kinds of files. SkyDrive also allows you to create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and OneNote files without having to install Microsoft Office locally on your hard drive.

Cloud Computing Privacy and Security

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What kind of privacy should you expect from cloud service providers? There are many cloud computing operators – including Microsoft, Google, Ubuntu and Mozy. Let’s see what Microsoft has to say about data protection in cloud services.

Cloud topics

The problem or probably advantage of cloud computing is that servers are free of location and time restrictions. Once your data is in the cloud, it can be in a server space in your building or on a server on the other side of the cloud.

Physical restrictions no longer play a role in cloud computing. However, the same characteristics of cloud computing raise important considerations about how individuals and organizations should process information and interact with their cloud service provider.

In the case of a traditional computer model, an organisation is responsible for all aspects of data protection. If there is a cloud, a third will arrive. Since the cloud service provider offers you storage space (as in the example above), it is also responsible for data security.

Clouds pose many new challenges:

  • Definition of responsibilities and obligations between cloud service providers and customers
  • Creation of sufficient transparency in allocation
  • Definition of responsibilities of cloud service providers and customers

Microsoft recognises that strong privacy protection is necessary to build the necessary trust in cloud computing. Without trust, cloud computing cannot realize its full potential. In my own words: We invest in the development of secure and data-sensitive systems and data centres that help protect the privacy of individuals, and we adhere to clear and responsible policies in our business practices – from software development and service delivery to operations and support.

Governments on clouds can humidify your data

Although Microsoft explicitly states it, the point is true. Most governments want to know what is happening in their region. Land law may require a cloud service provider to disclose essential information about the cloud services used by customers. In fact, it becomes difficult because data centers span multiple countries in a cloud scenario.

How will Microsoft address this problem? He says that users, cloud service providers and different governments should establish commonalities so that no one is on the lookout for clues.

Cooperation between all stakeholders in cloud computing, including governments, is needed. Ultimately, the technology industry, cloud users and governments must agree on certain harmonized cross-sectoral and cross-border data protection practices. Such agreements provide greater clarity and predictability for individuals, customers and cloud service providers.

This article is based on a Microsoft white paper, Privacy In Cloud, A Microsoft Perspective.

If you have comments or feedback, please do so.

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