Whether it’s big government or big corporations you fear may be encroaching on our right to privacy, you should have no trouble these days finding news to fuel your suspicions. If, on the other hand, you happen to run a business, you probably find clear-eyed assessments of the risks and benefits of things like cloud computing, Big Data, and the various emerging business intelligence technologies are really hard to come by.
Is the data you store in the cloud secure? The honest answer is that no data is ever perfectly secure—look what happened to Target. Any data connected to the internet is hackable, so unless you’re going to try to conduct business completely offline you just have to accept some degree of risk. Some tech experts even insist that the cloud is more secure than on-premises databases for many of the same reasons that money in the bank is more secure than cash in the mattress. Still, we’re just beginning to appreciate the possibilities of cloud computing, and the unfamiliarity is enough to make a lot of us uneasy.
At the same time, many businesses are rushing to take advantage of the cloud’s Big Data capabilities. If you think about Big Data’s potential to revolutionize industries like health care—patient information instantly channeled to every specialists in a hospital network, outcome statistics pointing the way to more effective treatments, solid data to inform public health initiatives—it’s easy to lose sight of the dangers to individual privacy. And this type of enthusiasm will likely draw many businesses into the Big Data game, since they know if they’re not taking advantage of the latest technology their competitors probably are.