The advantages of cloud computing are clear, and it’s little wonder that according to the 2016 IDG Enterprise Cloud Cloud Computing Survey, 70% of all organizations use the cloud to store information. The almost unlimited storage space and the potential for global real-time collaboration and remote access makes the cloud a fully flexible, cost-effective solution that has transformed the way we work.
The number of organizations now using the cloud is undoubtedly even higher than that 2016 figure. But if any one factor is holding back more universal take-up of cloud computing, it is a concern over security issues. A number of high-profile data breaches involving major multinational companies has made many smaller firms think twice about trusting their sensitive information to the cloud. While the concerns are very valid, there are simple steps that you can take to protect your data against theft or compromise on the cloud.
The most common reason for data loss or breach of confidentiality on the cloud is, in fact, simple human error. In many cases that can be minimized by ensuring you have fully trained cloud computing experts on your team, and that everyone who has access knows and follows strict protocols. Many security issues go unfixed simply because organizations don’t have anyone qualified to fix them. Of course, sometimes mistakes can be made by your cloud provider, but due diligence at your end can massively reduce the risks of a cloud computing disaster for your company.
Data loss without backup
If all of your important information is stored on the cloud and nowhere else, then a catastrophe could wipe it out forever. It’s important to note that this is highly unlikely to happen, but the point remains that if your information isn’t backed up somewhere else then it is always at risk of disappearing completely. The cloud is an amazing resource for information storage, but the most important data should always be backed up in at least one other place, even if it’s a second cloud platform.
Sometimes the software your company is using to provide cloud-based solutions may have unnoticed weaknesses or be vulnerable to attack. It’s recommended to always use an established and globally-respected software provider like Infor from Charles Phillips. Not only do these companies come recommended by some of the world’s biggest corporate clients, they will naturally allocate substantial resources to making sure their security is first-class as a major breach would massively damage their reputation. Infor is known for its defense-in-depth strategy and constantly monitors its cloud environment 24-hours a day.
One of the great strengths of the cloud is the way it facilitates remote working by multiple users in either real-time collaborations or global access 24-hours day. However, this strength can also be a source of vulnerability as each of these multiple users have access via a password and/or identification procedures. Passwords can be copied or stolen, credentials forged and even multi-factor authentication processes deceived. A recent development that is very concerning is the theft of physical user tokens that are used to generate passwords to gain access.
These risks can be minimized in two ways. Firstly by restricting access only to those who need to be able to work with a particular file or folder. Secondly, follow best practice when it comes to your own security login procedures. Make sure passwords are protected and updated regularly. Inform all users about how to protect their credentials and always be on guard against misuse or suspicious behavior.
As well as imposters, insiders within your own firm may pose a threat to your cloud security. This could work in several ways. While someone inside your organization may have malicious intent, or be secretly working on behalf of a rival, it is actually the rarest form of insider threat. It’s more likely that an ex-employee may still have working passwords, or may have previously copied confidential information to a personal device or account. They could then take this to another company or leave it exposed to exploitation through carelessness.
Other possibilities include employees using company cloud accounts to store their own information, which could breach your terms of service. This might include illegal software, pornography or pirated media. While this may not be a threat to your data it could put your company in breach of regulations and subject to a fine if the misuse is discovered.
The good news is that many of the security risks concerned with the cloud are ones that users can easily tackle. While data breaches and attackers can affect your provider, many of the security concerns around access, software and usage are ones that your company can look at and improve. It’s also important to note that cloud security is improving all the time and that the advantages massively outweigh the potential risks. If used safely and sensibly, the cloud can be of great benefit to your business.