Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, believes using public clouds can leave businesses vulnerable to spying by government or other entities, he said, speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Boston, according to media reports. Businesses should think about the potential costs of handing their data over to public cloud providers before doing so, he said.
Speaking via videoconference in a question-and-answer session with Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, Snowden said he supports private clouds and open-source software because those technologies allow users to avoid corporate or government interference, according to a ZDNet report. Proprietary software or hardware, on the other hand, prevents users from knowing when they are spied on, Snowden said.
Using large public cloud providers, Snowden said, prevents a company from maintaining visibility and control over how providers use their data, Fortune reports.
Though Snowden is skeptical of the public cloud, companies are already heavily pursuing it as they move to transition off on-premise infrastructure. Using third-party cloud providers may make companies more vulnerable, but it also saves companies huge amounts of money in upfront infrastructure costs. Leveraging public cloud therefore truly is a trade off.
While the large public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Google say they protect user data, when it comes down to it, companies have to accept their assurances or find an alternative infrastructure provider.
Using an public cloud provider is a lesson in reading the fine print. Overall, experts have touted the security of the cloud over on-prem systems. To ensure companies understand how their data is being used, they have to comb through usage agreements and ensure providers are not presenting any potential compliance concerns.