Privacy and Security in the Cloud: A Review of Guidance and Responses

By Whitley, Edgar A.; Willcocks, Leslie P. et al. | Journal of International Technology and Information Management, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Privacy and Security in the Cloud: A Review of Guidance and Responses


Whitley, Edgar A., Willcocks, Leslie P., Venters, Will, Journal of International Technology and Information Management


INTRODUCTION

Cloud computing can be seen as a service-based perspective on the provision of computing through the exploitation of technical innovations such as virtualization, high-performance networks and data-centre automation (Venters & Whitley, 2012; Willcocks et al., 2014). Academic interest in the topic has mirrored business interest in the opportunities it affords. For example, in 2010, Amazon's annual revenue from cloud services was estimated at between $500m and $700m (The Economist, 2010) and Forrester have predicted a global market for cloud computing worth $61bn for 2012 (Kirsker, 2012). Forrester believe that this will grow to $241bn by 2020 (Dignan, 2011). Finally, a recent study by CEBR (2011) predicts that the adoption of cloud computing has the potential to generate 763 billion euros of cumulative economic benefits over the period 2010-2015 as well as an additional direct and indirect job creation impact of nearly 2.4 million jobs (Centre for Economics and Business Research, 2011).

Despite these economic benefits, there are a number of espoused factors that are currently limiting the take up of cloud computing. Some of the most frequently raised concerns relate to questions of the security and privacy of data held in the cloud (Anthes, 2010; Krutz & Vines, 2010; Paquette et al., 2010; Ryan, 2010). For example, a survey with over 1000 respondents undertaken in 2010 found that over 60% of respondents believed that business risks associated with privacy and security were greater for cloud services than traditional data processing. Over 50% reported greater concerns about data being held overseas and over 40% reported enhanced concerns about compliance / regulatory issues (Willcocks et al., 2011a). This level of concerns is echoed in more recent surveys (e.g. Computer Weekly, 2013).

In some cases these concerns were actually preventing the adoption of cloud services (Everest Group, 2013). In other cases, security and privacy increased the costs of adopting cloud by requiring increased diligence in assessing cloud suppliers (Seddon & Currie, 2013). Finally, there is also the perspective, that these concerns can be exaggerated by IT departments who are reluctant to cede further control over, or out of the IT function--departments, perhaps, that have learned their own lessons from the outsourcing revolution.

The purpose of this paper is to review and contextualise the nature of these concerns, to evaluate the guidance that is available about them and to assess the potential legal, technological and business responses to them. Thus the paper's purposes are to describe the main concepts relating to privacy and security as they apply to cloud computing, relating exemplars of the existing guidance to these concepts and hence enabling new concerns and forms of guidance to be understood in relation to the existing available literature (Webster & Watson, 2002).

In particular, the paper suggests that the privacy and security concerns that can arise when moving to the cloud are best understood from a risk-based perspective. This allows all parties to differentiate between operational risks and regulatory and compliance risks. The review also enables them to better appreciate which risks can be mitigated by an effective cloud sourcing strategy, which can be addressed by cloud providers and which are the unavoidable but possibly manageable risks of doing business.

The next section therefore seeks to understand the landscape of privacy and security concerns by reviewing the key business and legal / compliance issues that cloud computing raises. In order to ground these concerns, the paper focuses on the requirements of UK data protection legislation that are driven by the EU Data Protection Directive. It contrasts them with associated regulatory requirements in other jurisdictions, particularly the United States. This is followed by a section that summarises some of the most recent guidance on privacy and security issues in the cloud. …

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