Google's cloud encryption is good for PR -- and users, too

Google's addition of default encryption in its cloud storage plays on NSA-induced fears, but it's not a bad strategy

Google will, by default, encrypt data warehoused in its Cloud Storage service, the IDG News Service reports. "The server-side encryption is now active for all new data written to Cloud Storage, and older data will be encrypted in the coming months," wrote Google product manager Dave Barth in a blog post. You can even hold your own encryption keys.

Although this seems like a prudent move by Google, it's perhaps more of a PR ploy taking advantage of the ongoing NSA privacy scandal, which threatens to scare away users from U.S. cloud providers. People are questioning the security and privacy of cloud computing, and Google is playing on those fears.

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The reality is that most cloud-based storage provides encryption services, but they aren't typically turned on by default. That's because encryption kills performance and, in most cases, is not needed.

However, with everyone now believing that their data is being monitored -- which is true in some cases -- they want assurances that protections of some kind are in place. That's Google's implied message.

Although this seems to be mainly a PR ploy on Google's part, I think it's a step in the right direction, and I suspect other cloud storage providers will follow. We now live in a world where we think somebody is always watching, and anything we place outside of our firewall (or inside, in many instances), is up for grabs. Even though the governments will get the keys to encrypted cloud data, it will take more effort and perhaps reduce the requests. In any event, a bit of justified paranoia is a good thing.

This article, "Google's cloud encryption is good for PR -- and users, too," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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