Private Eyes Are Watching You

There are a few standard hacker tricks that could cause cloud computing companies major headaches. One of those is called key logging. A key logging program records keystrokes. If a hacker manages successfully to load a key logging program on a victim's computer, he or she can study the keystrokes to discover user names and passwords. Of course, if the user's computer is just a streamlined terminal, it might be impossible to install the program in the first place.

Cloud Computing Concerns

Perhaps the biggest concerns about cloud computing are security and privacy. The idea of handing over important data to another company worries some people. Corporate executives might hesitate to take advantage of a cloud computing system because they can't keep their company's information under lock and key.

The counterargument to this position is that the companies offering cloud computing services live and die by their reputations. It benefits these companies to have reliable security measures in place. Otherwise, the service would lose all its clients. It's in their interest to employ the most advanced techniques to protect their clients' data.

Privacy is another matter. If a client can log in from any location to access data and applications, it's possible the client's privacy could be compromised. Cloud computing companies will need to find ways to protect client privacy. One way is to use authentication techniques such as user names and passwords. Another is to employ an authorization format -- each user can access only the data and applications relevant to his or her job.

Some questions regarding cloud computing are more philosophical. Does the user or company subscribing to the cloud computing service own the data? Does the cloud computing system, which provides the actual storage space, own it? Is it possible for a cloud computing company to deny a client access to that client's data? Several companies, law firms and universities are debating these and other questions about the nature of cloud computing.

How will cloud computing affect other industries? There's a growing concern in the IT industry about how cloud computing could impact the business of computer maintenance and repair. If companies switch to using streamlined computer systems, they'll have fewer IT needs. Some industry experts believe that the need for IT jobs will migrate to the back end of the cloud computing system.

Another area of research in the computer science community is autonomic computing. An autonomic computing system is self-managing, which means the system monitors itself and takes measures to prevent or repair problems. Currently, autonomic computing is mostly theoretical. But, if autonomic computing becomes a reality, it could eliminate the need for many IT maintenance jobs.

To learn more about cloud computing and other related topics, see the links on the next page.