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Think cloud computing is a good fit? Not so fast, says Cassels Brock & Blackwell lawyer

For businesses that may be looking at cloud computing as a key way to address cost savings and communications versatility, Bernice Karn, a partner with with the law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP has this advice:  "Do your...


June 14, 2011  


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For businesses that may be looking at cloud computing as a key way to address cost savings and communications versatility, Bernice Karn, a partner with with the law firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP has this advice:  “Do your homework.”

In fact, Karn is warning that ‘key business’ should never be entrusted to the cloud.

“Any time computing resources are shared by a number of users, the potential exists for virtual neighbours to gain visibility to a user’s activity patterns, which might potentially enable the creation of covert and side channels into the neighbour’s data,” she says. 

“Activity patterns may be accessed and lead to reverse engineering of a digital customer base or discovery of revenues.”

Karn said other issues of concern include data co-mingling, questions of data ownership, the location of stored data, data retention periods, provider consolidation and regulatory compliance.

Any Canadian organization seriously contemplating the use of cloud computing should carefully analyze the risks and rewards and commit to taking advantage of the various contractual modifications and user best practices that offer enhanced protection, she added.

“Keep in mind that the basic premise of cloud computing is that it offers exactly the same service for many users.  That’s what makes it low cost.  So the cloud providers may not be willing to contractually agree to clauses that will require them to perform the service differently for each user.  In other words, like with everything else, you get what you pay for.”