On the advice of their spy agencies — that data would be stolen by foreign state and non-state actors — many governments wince at the idea of storing their data on the cloud servers.
Cloud storage is a network of remote servers — usually managed by a specialised third party agent — accessed through the internet.
There are public, free-to-use cloud services, and there are private ones.
Governments prefer to keep their data on physical servers where staff can see and touch.
In assessing the risks and rewards of cloud data storage, governments have long argued that cloud servers are fraught with risks.
That they can be cracked by cybercrooks and data used for nefarious intentions.
Cloud services bring many benefits. They eliminate the need to purchase hardware equipment to store files or to upgrade hardware when extra storage space is needed, or the need to delete old files to make room for new ones.
The cloud is convenient and cost-effective because you pay for the space you use. Cloud servers provide a way to automatically back up files and folders.
Cloud offers unlimited data storage and remove the burden of having to purchase, maintain, and update your own networks and computer systems.
It requires few staff and offers improved security and flexibility.
Cloud data storage services are built on the latest technology and manned by capable sleuth-eyed professionals; a strong defence to thwart legions of cyberattacks.
But the debate about cloud versus on-site data storage is far from being concluded.
Some people embrace the cloud services while others are stuck with the idea of keeping the servers off the cloud.
Private cloud service agents are better placed in housing sensitive data compared to free cloud services. Of course the agent managing the cloud service has access to the data.
To maintain confidentiality of the information, therefore, the agent would need to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
But, if a government would not want a third party to see its data, on-the-ground data storage is a better option.
In the healthcare sector, for example, cloud-based digital data management is changing how patient data are managed, helping healthcare providers make the best treatment decisions, reducing operational costs and much more.
In a bid to increase access to health services, some countries are implementing an infrastructure that enables patients and healthcare providers to access patients’ data at any point of care anywhere in the country.
This is only be possible if the troves of burgeoning patient data are stored centrally and available for access 24/7, from all points of care.
Whereas cloud computing often offers secure data services compared to on-site data services, it is not a hermetically secure solution.
There is no security solution that is sure-fire. Data protected by law should never be stored on the cloud unless the storage is encrypted.