The Cloud And The Deep Sea: How Cloud Storage Raises The Stakes For Undersea Cable Security And Liability
Our data is moving into the cloud. While in the past we stored data on the computers on our desks, now we increasingly give control of our data to far-away professionals and give up our hard drives for storage online in the “cloud.” A PEW report in 2008 found that sixty-nine percent of Americans had either stored files online or used a web-based software application at least once. Now over one exabyte, or over one billion gigabytes, of data is stored among the many cloud services like Gmail and Dropbox. Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service, which provides the cloud storage space for companies like Dropbox, stores 762 billion objects. That is enough for 108 objects per person on earth. In 2013, the cloud market is predicted to grow by 18.5 percent. By 2016, it is estimated that users will store more than one third of their digital content in the cloud. It is not just individuals accessing their documents via Dropbox that make up this migration to the cloud. Companies looking to save on expensive hardware and the salaries of the IT professionals required to maintain that expensive hardware are also looking toward the cloud for their own data storage. Because individuals and businesses increasingly rely on the cloud to perform basic functions, reliable access to that cloud is not merely important – it is critical. The concerns about cloud storage are thus two-fold: the security of the data itself and the security of our access to that data. This article focuses on the latter concern. Specifically, this article focuses on the security of one critical component of the global Internet infrastructure that we use to access the cloud: undersea cables. These cables once carried only transatlantic telegraph messages. Now they carry any kind of communication – telephone calls, emails, bank account transfers – across the globe. Accessing files from the cloud is just one of the many ways we rely on this infrastructure. As cloud storage grows and multinational companies begin to rely on these cables to access their files, the potential economic impact of a breach of these cables becomes catastrophic. This article argues that the growth in cloud storage has raised the stakes when it comes to undersea cable security by making our ability to access our day-to-day files dependent on them. Furthermore, it is unclear who, if anyone, would be responsible for the economic loss associated with a loss of access to those files. Part II of this article explores the idea of cloud storage and how access to information in the cloud has become a global issue that relies on undersea cables. It examines the structural flaws in undersea cable security and the inability of the current legal system to compensate victims for the loss of access to data in the event of a breach of undersea cable security. Part III explores and critiques various solutions to ensure that access to data in the cloud remains safe from undersea cable breaches and that any economic loss due to cable breaches can be compensated. This article then advocates in Part IV for a solution that includes a shift of liability to cloud storage providers and increased redundancy requirements.