• GITS

Is cloud storage threatening the fate of physical storage?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

As the global internet penetration reaches 57% in 2019 (Wearesocial 2019), there have been debates that cloud storage is replacing physical storage systems due to its undoubtedly advantages. While supporters of physical storage claim its undeniable role, especially when mentioning data security.

A closer look at cloud storage

Cloud storage is seen as a future practice which allows users to remotely store and manage their data into a cloud for on-demand usage; as well as acts as a shared pool of resources via a few mouse clicks. With cloud storage, users can escape from the nightmare of physical large size data storage and maintenance (Wang et al 2011). For instance, Google is among the most “generous” cloud storage provider by allowing up to 15GB of free storage on Google Drive to anyone who signs up for a Google account; or it costs you only $2 USD per month for 100GB storage. It sounds fantastic, isn’t?

However, security is among major issues that impact the growth of cloud storage as user's data can be attacked or unintentionally leaked out (More & Chaudhari 2016). For example, it seems safe to access your data on a cloud-based platform from your laptop. But is it still safe that you lend you friend that very laptop even though you have logged out from your account? Another questionable scenario is that by using cloud storage, your data are still under control of the service provider. Taking Google Drive as an example, despite of all the security commitments including two-factor authentication, Google itself is able to “read” the things that users have stored on Google Drive to probably serve certain purposes. Among the most arguable is that Google allows its partners, like marketers to approach you with relevant and tailored advertisements based on users’ personal information, tracked interests and search behaviors.

As a result, these security-related concerns of cloud storage lead to the birth of another service called “Third Party Auditor" (TPA), which ensures the data integrity on cloud storage systems. Basically, TPA, on behalf of users, audits encrypted data blocks to detect whether dishonest behaviors such as deleting, modifying and updating were performed. However, some still suspect the safety of these TPA services; while others argue that it’s not cost-effective to double pay for not only the cloud storage, but also TPA services.

How physical storage evolves

Physical storage systems are claimed to be more protected as they allow data to stay away from the most dangerous enemy of privacy - the Internet. Moreover, physical storage helps ease the burden of reliance on cloud service providers, which means data owners are the true owners of their data.

However, in this digital age, these physical systems cannot stay offline permanently; and when they are connected to an online device, hackers might get a chance. Accordingly, highly secure storage devices with hardware-based encryption are invented to bear this drawback. One of them is USEC DataSafe – a secure anti-virus USB port invented by Vietnam Security Network J.S.C (VSEC), and interestingly enough claimed to have 2 layers of protection. The 1st layer is unsurprisingly the numeric physical keypad for setting up password; while the 2nd one is more advanced with a specialized software which builds and manages a storage space right inside the USB that virus (from the connected device) cannot penetrate.

Yet as clearly seen, the storage capacity is quite limited with only 32GB, which generates a precious challenge for developers of these secured devices to catch up with the cloud providers.

It might be still early to claim that cloud storage would beat up physical storage due to a variety of usage purposes. We all cannot deny the accessibility of cloud storage in such a connected world. However, if you have to travel a lot, meaning your valued data have to stay mobile as well, it would be more efficient if you own a highly secure device like USEC DataSafe. In short, for the sake of convenience and data security, why don’t you own both a cloud storage system and a highly secure physical device? Better safe (with double storage) than sorry, isn't it?