The Risk of Using Cloud Storage: Natural Disasters

Article Written by Avery Phillips 

After a summer like 2017, staying safe in the midst of a natural disaster is on many people's minds. What some people may be forgetting to keep safe, however, is their cloud data. 

Cloud data revolutionized the way companies store their information by making it easier to organize files from any location - not just the office desktop. Suddenly CEOs could work from Bermuda to Paris, having access to every file on the go. 

Now, where does that leave all of our information?  

Everyone know it isn't not floating above our heads in a million little pieces like a Willy Wonka candy bar. It is stored in one of many data centers throughout the world that specialize in cloud services and cloud-based resources. 

But are these data centers a safe space for the storage of your most delicate and privileged information?  

Let's do some travelling to Asia, the current hotspot for data center construction. Because the availability of land is so high and stocks are through the roof, companies are investing more and more in offshore data storage in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong. Fortune 500 companies like Google and Amazon have been storing data in these countries for years.   

So what keeps these Asian data centers safe from natural disasters? 

First of all, the region itself. This area is not known for common occurrences of natural disasters. And what's more, data center developers are constantly thinking about where and why they are building these structures where they do. Developers know that some of the most secure information in the world is stored in data centers, so they make it a high priority to be logical in the placement of them. 

This, however, hasn't been the case for all developers. There are currently a number of data centers built in highly susceptible areas, like the Gulf Coast and the Midwest. Following Hurricane Sandy, it became much more of a priority for developers to safeguard their centers from the devastating effects of natural disasters. 

According to Database Trends and Applications, there are three primary steps that are taken to ensure data centers remain safe: 

  1. Rendering the data center's physical facilities more damage resistant;
  2. Decentralizing data center operations, both physically and logically; and
  3. Providing for the continuity of data center operations if protective measures fail. 

There are also a number of additional steps that can be taken to ensure that confidential information does not become compromised in the event of a hurricane, tornado or earthquake. For example, it can be extremely beneficial to have two data centers with the same operations located several miles apart. In the event that one of these centers is compromised, you can be sure that the data is still safe in the second facility. 

There has also been a recent buzz about underground data facilities. Some developers have insisted that their underground sites would remain safe even after the event of a nuclear attack. Natural disasters are not the only thing that can take down structures so it is imperative to protect your data center against all kinds of threats. After the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, data centers have been popping up in well-hidden locations forested by tall trees. This helps protect the site from immediate view from above.

So what about data centers that are a decade old?  

Recently, regulations have been put in place requiring data centers to reevaluate their security procedures to ensure the protection of customers' data. Many data centers that were built over 8 years ago do not currently support the complex computing systems required for the storage of cloud data. Therefore, companies that are supported by the cloud, which are several, are needing to build new data centers with more advanced technology. 

Does that mean cloud data is safe from natural disasters?

Unfortunately, no, because as Hurricanes Juan and Harvey taught us, nothing is safe from a natural disaster. However certain precautions are being taken in the data storage industry to ensure a quick bounce back from any emergency. Data centers, which operate a little differently than cloud storage, have begun installing advanced backup software that will attempt to recover vital data after a loss. Even something as simple as a power outage can delay businesses for days if not properly planned for, so it is critical that developers keep in mind the effects of a natural disaster when working in the business of protecting people's privacy.
 
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About the Author


Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things relating to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian.