The largest cloud providers today are Google, Microsoft, and Amazon; each offering multiple services and platforms for their respective customers. For example, Microsoft Azure, Google Apps, and Amazon EC2 are all hosting and development platforms. Google Docs, Acrobat.com, and Microsoft Office 365 all provide basic word processing, spreadsheets and other applications for individuals to use via the web instead of on their individual desktops. Then, of course, there’s social networks, online gaming, and video and music sharing services — all of which rely on a hosted environment that can accommodate millions of users interacting from anywhere on earth, yet all connected somewhere in cyberspace. While the benefits are many, both to individuals and to corporations, there are three distinct disadvantages from an individual and national security perspective:
- The cloud provider is not responsible for securing its customers’ data.
- Attacking a cloud-based service provides an economy of scale to the attacker.
- Mining the cloud provides a treasure trove of information for domestic and foreign intelligence services.
Anyone who uses any sort of cloud service should pay special attention to that first point.