At some point in time most businesses will undoubtedly face the decision to move data to the cloud, and that conversation will likely center on security.
There are many arguments as to whether storing data on the cloud is a far better or worse option than opting to stick with an on-premise solution.
Delving deeper into the emergent topic, we learn that the answer is much more complex.
There are many popular points of discussion regarding technology’s latest hot topic, including accessibility, security, responsibility and data loss.
And you might be surprised to learn that many of the cloud concerns can be squashed with a simple set of security best practices.
The Top 4 Misconceptions About Cloud Computing
The biggest cloud security threat rests in its availability to outside hackers.
This sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Cyberattacks are growing by leaps and bounds, and just last year a good many large brands were themselves victims of large-scale data breaches. But in fact, the largest amount of risk lies with the employees.
A Data Breach Industry Forecast places company employees as responsible for up to 60 percent of all 2015 security incidents. And these predictions are pointing to businesses for failing to better protect against internal threats.
The cloud is insecure by design
There is a lot of unfounded fear surrounding the cloud in general. Unfamiliar, slightly nebulous, and easily accessible from anywhere, it’s no wonder this technology bears the burden of proof.
Many business owners still proclaim that data is always safer in-house than on any remote network. Fortunately larger-named businesses such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have begun to cut through this stigma.
These companies have worked hard to instill trust in their security measures and become the poster children for best practices in cloud computing.
The integrity of the cloud relies on much more than a simple statement of whether it is or is not secure. There are many practices and programs that can greatly enhance cloud security.
As well, there are many ways to use the cloud which can lead to preventable vulnerabilities. In short, the argument is not black and white.
Cloud security is the sole responsibility of the cloud provider
Not all of the responsibility regarding the best practices that keep data secure in the cloud lie with the cloud provider. Many of these responsibilities rely on businesses to adopt good practices as well.
Just as you would take measures to secure your on-premise data, so would you take measures to secure your cloud-based data. And any of the general in-house security procedures a business owner would normally follow still apply.
This means adopting security protocols and routinely monitoring the system for vulnerabilities.
I could lose all my data in an instant
Because data stored in the cloud is no longer under your roof, it can raise some insecurity and fear that if anything were to happen to your cloud provider, all of your data could disappear in an instant and cause costly setbacks or even ruin your business.
But this is where data duplication comes in. Any good cloud provider will follow the rule of redundancy, effectively eliminating this concern and providing peace of mind.
There are many pieces of a system that can fail, especially physical components. Cloud providers prevent disaster by fully replicating data multiple times on multiple units in the same data center, and also in other locations.
That way if one part of a cloud system fails, data still remains secure in another. This adds a level of protection that on premise data housing can’t always efficiently replicate.
How to Assess and Reduce Risk in Your Cloud Strategy
The benefits of cloud computing are many. Yet the way each business operates and the security practices they follow can greatly affect just how secure their cloud-hosted data remains.
Here are a few practices that can help businesses keep their data safe and secure in a cloud environment.
Know your access points
A high number of individuals accessing business data can raise the risk of a data breach. Know who is accessing data, why, and when. Keep an eye on access control and limit the amount of entry points to sensitive data.
Know your cloud provider
Cloud providers are not all one and the same. Ensure your provider is up to snuff by asking them pertinent questions about their operations, including:
- How will you encrypt my data?
- How do I disable access to my data in case of a security breach?
- How do you keep my data separate from your other clients?
- Do you have data protection certifications? What are they?
- How do you manage data redundancy?
- How much control do I have over my data?
- What type of analytics and reports can you provide on data access and security?
Implement a security protocol
Keeping sensitive and valuable data secure is the responsibility of both the cloud providers and the business owners.
Implement security measures and routinely update and review those measures to include the following safeguards:
- Maintain physical security on the business end. Secure any areas where computer access to cloud data could be compromised by unauthorized parties.
- Keep the network secure. Ensure that appropriate firewall protection and monitoring tools are in place, and confirm that remote access to the network includes authentication protection.
- Always keep customer data encrypted. This includes HTTPS encryption for all inbound and outbound data.
- Keep all technological systems and applications up-to-date to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities.
- Stay up to code with certifications such as PCI compliance, HIPAA regulations, and any others that apply.
Cloud-based security is a central concern as its popularity and inevitability become a reality.
Fortunately, the market for security services and products is keeping pace with the surge in cloud computing.
In addition to these evolving safeguards, the strategy a business uses when it comes to managing and securing their data in the cloud is the most important factor in maintaining data integrity and minimizing risks.
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