US cloud providers are set to lose out as an increasing number of businesses move their cloud servers to more secure locations. The PRISM scandal has sparked new fears amongst business owners about the validity and privacy of their data and the consequences of the leak have been much wider than previously anticipated. This has presented both a challenge and an opportunity for many non US providers and changes are expected to both business and consumer offerings.
The US has been at the forefront of cloud technology for many years and most of the services people use today, including Azure and Dropbox, are based there. This presents a very present danger for many businesses because employees and in fact entire organisations could be storing and sharing their files through these services. This in turn could in theory, enable intelligence services to view these often sensitive business files. As a result, many businesses are now looking to more secure locations such as Switzerland for their data hosting needs.
Swiss ‘private’ hosting companies are seeing huge growth because privacy in Switzerland is enshrined in law. As the country is outside of the EU, it is not bound by pan-European agreements to share data with other member states, or worse, the US. Artmotion, for example, has witnessed 45 per cent growth in revenue amid this new demand for heightened privacy.
Until now the PRISM scandal has focused on the privacy of the individual, but the surveillance undertaken by NSA and Britain’s own GCHQ has spurred corporate concern about the risks associated with using American based cloud providers to host data. It is especially troubling for businesses with data privacy issues, such as banks or large defence and healthcare organisations with ‘secret’ research and development needs.
Before PRISM, the US was at the forefront of the cloud computing industry and companies worldwide flocked to take advantage of the scalable benefits of cloud hosting, as well as the potential cost savings it offered.
However the scandal has unearthed significant risks to data for businesses, as well as for their customers. With US cloud service providers, the government can request business information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without the company in question ever knowing its data has been accessed.
For businesses large and small, data vulnerabilities and the threat of industrial espionage from US hosting sites can present real security risks or privacy implications, and it’s causing a real fear. Business owners are worried that by using US based systems, private information could potentially be seen by prying eyes.
The desire for data privacy has therefore seen a surge in large corporations turning to ‘Silicon’ Switzerland to take advantage of the country’s renowned privacy culture. Here they can host data without fear of it being accessed by foreign governments.