One of the more intriguing technological advancements over the past several years is cloud storage. Try showing a 12 year-old a floppy disc and you’ll see what we mean. Now, most people don’t even worry about thumb drives. And much of this change is because we have evolved into a world that can store more data in places that are less intrusive. In this case, the cloud is like an invisible fog—it is nowhere, it is everywhere. Another reason people love the cloud is that there is seemingly no limit to the amount of data it can store.
Yet, not everyone uses the cloud to store data. The government doesn’t store much of its data in the cloud. Many businesses, especially larger businesses that deal with private or confidential information don’t use the cloud. Why not? In an interview published on the website NFIB, which caters to small businesses, Eden Gillotte Bowe stated that people shouldn’t store things on the cloud that they aren’t 100% comfortable showing the world.
Things No One Should Put in the Cloud
Other than naked selfies, what should be kept out of the cloud? Looking at these items, and it is pretty clear why the government does not use the cloud as storage:
- Employee records
- Health records of employees
- Credit card and banking records
Think about all of the potential health records the government may have access to. Been in the military? Been a prison guard at a federal penitentiary? Been a custodian at a government agency? The government probably has a folder of personal information on you, and you may not want that information to see the light of day. Millions who work for the government would be at risk of having their records taken.
How Secure Is Your Data?
In the past several years, large companies that can afford top web security have been hacked. Target, Home Depot, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and many others large companies have had customer, employee, and their own business operations hacked. There is probably no system that cannot be hacked, the goal, other than the never-ending quest to create a hack-proof presence on the web, is to identify when you are being hacked and stop those people or entities.
Even when data has been encrypted, a good hacker (or government) can get through. The government, and many large businesses will not trust the cloud unless certain added protections can be attained. When the Democratic Party was hacked, purportedly by Russia, many members of government became even more nervous about data security, and rightly so.
Why the Government Could Move to the Cloud
Governments are bureaucracies. Bureaucracies create paperwork, and not all paperwork is private and top-secret. But paperwork also produces millions of pieces of paper a year, and that paper (or the technological systems needed to keep the data) must be kept somewhere. For now, the cloud is one of the choices, but govtech.com has found that there are some considerations that must be addressed.
One thing that must be considered is the manpower and the expense of turning paper into computer data. Someone has to put in the man hours to transfer that paper. Not only will the government need to find a secure, or reasonably secure cloud storage method, but someone will need to scan thousands, or even millions of pieces of paper.
Excellent web security must be built into any budget regarding transferring government data to the cloud. Other changes will probably be required to allow the IRS agent in Missouri, the IRS agent in New York, and the IRS agent in New Mexico to all get into the cloud and access past records that they need. That sort of interface, combined with necessary security may prove to be quite expensive.
There will need to be new and specific encryption for this cloud. What is the big deal? Many, if not most IT professionals have inherited some sort of protection for the data they are in charge of. When the government makes a switch, there will no inherited processes or code. There will be new code, new data, and the professionals intelligent and creative enough to create these protections will want to be paid for their genius.
Whether the government or a business that has not completely embraced the cloud yet, may need to have a plan to get out of the cloud. If hackers do get in a plant a virus, or take data, it may be necessary to move the data to earth bound servers. Have plans ready to make this move, and hope it is never required.
The cloud is great – except for when it isn’t. The government and most businesses will probably one day be part of the cloud. The question is how many growing pains will they suffer as they make that move?