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Cloud computing: carefully consider the benefits and risks

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing refers to computer tasks performed using services delivered entirely over the Internet (the “cloud”).  Services range from web-based email and social networking to full-scale software packages and data-storage services.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing?

Providers can cut costs by reducing or eliminating the need to spend money on information technology infrastructure and hardware / software licenses.  They also can store data offsite with the ability to access it over the Internet from virtually anywhere. 

While the benefits are clear, there are legal and reputational risks that any business needs to understand.  To protect your company ask the following:

  • Does the service provider meet your required standard of privacy?
  • Are procedures in place to keep your data secure?
  • What is the risk your data could be lost or not given back?
  • Is your data made available to others for tracking or advertising purposes?

Where can I find more information on the benefits and risks?

Cloud Computing for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Privacy Responsibilities and Considerations” is a series of tip sheets prepared by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Alberta and British Columbia.  These documents provide insightful information on the advantages, risks and legal obligations that come with cloud services.

If you are considering a jump to the cloud, these guidelines will help you prepare for the legal realities.  They will also help you shop around for service providers able to offer assurances of reliable service delivery, secure encryption technologies and privacy protection for your valuable company records. 

February 13, 2013

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