One of the hottest topics right now in the IT industry is cloud computing. Just last week, we wrote a blog post about the advantages of cloud computing. A few months ago, we also wrote another post on the reasons why cloud computing is a better IT solution for SMEs. As with all things new, there is a certain amount of apprehension when the subject of cloud computing is approached. Being an IT services firm, we often hear this question from clients and prospects: “Is my data safe on the cloud?”
Right off the bat, we can tell you that no IT service provider can promise you 100% protection from a breach. This can never be guaranteed. However, there are things you can do to ensure that your information is safer on the cloud.
Choose a trusted cloud service provider
The idea of handing sensitive data over to a third-party seems absurd at first glance. Why should I trust another company with the security of my information? Isn’t it better if I set everything up by myself, so that I am the sole person in control of that information?
Well, not really. In an article on Forbes magazine, CEO of ShareFile Jesse Lipson illustrated the advantages of employing the services of a cloud provider by comparing them to airline pilots:
“Most cloud computing companies are like experienced airline pilots. They are well trained, have backup systems and contingency plans in case they encounter an issue, and they have a full staff of professionals regularly checking and maintaining their service. Cloud software companies, knowing the implications of a crash on their business’ bottom line, invest significant resources into ensuring that such a disaster never occurs. Cloud computing companies can invest far more resources in data backup and security than your business can.” x
That said, companies should exercise caution when choosing a cloud service provider. The basic requirement should be that the company has a SSAE16 Type II certification.
Be willing to pay for quality
We know that sometimes, budget can get in the way of procuring better technology. So rather than say, purchasing a cloud based sharing service for office use, some companies might choose to go with the free, online equivalent of that service instead. The problem with this is that it might not be as secure compared to using a paid service. This is because a service provider that charges for its services will naturally have more money to invest in its security and have larger teams of experts to lend support in data sharing and storage. Google invests millions of dollars in this area alone, so you can rest assured that you are getting a far superior service compared to using a free solution. Unless of course, you are willing to take a chance with your business data.
Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt your data
To guard your information from the prying eyes of competitors and common criminals, simply make sure that your data encrypted. Kenneth Leeser, president of security at resource management company Kaliber said the following on encryption:
“Sharing data by using secure sites which encrypt the data, in transit and when it is stored, is relatively safe. Using encrypted email is relatively safe too. In fact, in my opinion, these tools are safer than most people’s current practices of sending open emails and storing data on unencrypted computers and laptops.”
Use a strong password
Seeing how a password is the easiest way to gain access to your data stored on the cloud, common sense would dictate that a strong password should be used. Ideally, a good, strong password should contain both capital and lowercase letters, a number and a punctuation mark. The less the password resembles a word, the better. For tips on how to create a good password, take a look at the video below:
Don’t be a fool
Most of them time, security breaches happen because of human error. This can be easily prevented if sensitive information, such as passwords, are carefully guarded by their users. As a general rule of thumb, you should never email or text anyone your password without first verifying their request. Learn how to recognise phishing attempts as well, so that you won’t end up compromising your online accounts by keying in the login details on a fake web page.
All in all, your critical data is much more safer on the cloud as long as you take the precautions highlighted above. As we mentioned earlier, no company can guarantee you that there will never be a security breach. However, as the service providers are specialists in cloud computing, they are more likely to catch the early warning signs of a security breach and will be much better equipped to deal with that eventuality.