There are so many benefits to storing your data in the cloud – but a lot of businesses are against using the cloud due to concerns over security. In fact, 63% of small and medium sizes businesses believe that the cloud should be doing more to protect the data of businesses. So, can you trust the cloud with your business data?
Ultimately ‘the cloud’ is just another business handling your data. So, the question of whether or not you can trust the cloud is whether or not you can trust that business. It is absolutely essential that you put in the full level of research into the provider you are thinking of using to ensure that they put your data security first.
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In this article, we’ll take a look at whether cloud data storage could be right for you, and how to establish whether you can trust cloud providers with your data. However, it is important first to understand why you might choose the cloud in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages.
The advantages of storing data in the cloud
The alternative to storing data in the cloud is keeping all of your business information on in-house servers. However, building your own data center comes with a number of drawbacks – it is expensive, energy-hungry, and extremely time-inefficient. Managing a server can take up a great deal of time for your IT department.
When you use the cloud, you are essentially outsourcing your in-house data center to specialists who can do all of the maintenance for you – it also means you won’t have any of the costs associated with running energy-sapping servers around the clock as well as saving you physical space in your premises.
Better yet, cloud storage is far more flexible and scalable. If you need more space in your data center, you’ll need to add an expensive server, potentially with far greater capacity than you actually require. With cloud storage you only pay for what you use – this means you’ll be reducing your costs and making things easier for your company to run.
The risks of cloud storage
While you might be well-aware of all of the benefits of cloud storage, you may yet to be convinced by the security measures in place. Some businesses are against the idea of using cloud storage because they either don’t understand the security measures in place, or they aren’t sure whether their data will remain secure.
In some ways, this is warranted. Of course, it is naturally the case that no matter what security features are put in place, cybersecurity can never be 100% guaranteed. Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. Whether it is through phishing, DDoS attacks, or any of the myriad ways, hackers can compromise a business.
But another serious issue for businesses is the concept of data privacy. Ultimately, your data stored on the cloud is in the hands of another organization, and governments are in a position to put pressure on these organizations and request information. While many cloud providers stake their reputation on their privacy, companies will nevertheless hand over some data to government agencies.
Reasons to trust the cloud with your data
Of course, it is also important to remember that while these issues should be in your mind, storing data in the cloud can actually have a number of positives from a security perspective too. It is in the interest of cloud storage providers to ensure that their premises are highly secure. Not only are servers typically a long way away from employees, but they also benefit from a huge about of physical and cybersecurity measures.
Services providers will encrypt their data, as well as putting in extremely powerful cybersecurity software and processes – the kind of cybersecurity that is simply not practical or cost-effective for standard businesses. This makes hacking into cloud storage providers an extremely arduous task, and it is enough to turn off many from even trying.
With in-house servers, your data could potentially be vulnerable to malware infections and ransomware attacks, while the chances of these being deployed effectively against cloud service providers are extremely slim.
Better still, cloud services will comprehensively back up their own servers and have multiple copies of the data available. This means that they are not at risk of possibilities such as a fire in the building or a critical error, which could be an issue should your business use an in-house data center.
How cloud vendors protect data
In order for your business to feel that it can trust the cloud services provider, you need to understand the kind of defenses that they have put in place. When you start evaluating your cloud storage provider, you should assess them based on whether they have key security measures.
Here we provide a list of some of the most important security features that a cloud services provider should have:
The first thing to establish is whether the cloud services provider has physical security measures in place. If cybercriminals are able to gain physical access to the premises of a cloud storage provider, this can be just as damaging as a cyberattack.
One issue here is the physical location of the servers – does the provider offer data centers in a number of different locations? Spreading your data over multiple data centers is an excellent way to minimize the risk of data loss or theft.
At the cloud provider premises, there are also many physical security measures that the company should have in place, such as CCTV for round-the-clock surveillance and concrete barriers to prevent vehicular access and ramraiding.
“Whether it’s keeping travelers off a site permanently or for use as part of an ongoing construction or maintenance project, or even to block off disused vehicle entrances, concrete blocks and barriers offer security on a permanent basis.” (Maltaward)
One of the major lines of defense for any cloud security provider is encryption. The cloud uses complex algorithms in order to conceal data stored on the cloud. Encrypted data is useless, and functionally impossible to decode, without the encryption key – due to the fact that it would take an amount of time and computing power to do so that it would make the operation pointless.
Data encryption is regarded as one of the most important measures of cybersecurity, as it means that even if your data is able to be taken by criminals, they will not have access to it, and will not be able to use it in any way.
Look for cloud services providers who provide local encryption and decryption of your files, as well as offering backup and storage. This means that your data is entirely secure at every step in the process.
Cloud security controls
Your cloud services provider should also put a number of cloud security controls in place so that data is secure at all times. There are many different types of controls, so you need the provider to give you an understanding of which key measures they use. Some of the most important include:
- Preventative controls – while these cannot eliminate vulnerabilities in the system, preventative controls strengthen the system a whole. They could include things such as authentication for cloud users, making it impossible for unauthorized users to access the system.
- Deterrent controls – these are effective in reducing attacks against the system, informing potential attackers of the powerful protections in place.
- Detection controls – these controls detect and respond to any incidents that occur against a system. They can include system, network, and endpoint monitoring.
- Reactive controls – these controls attempt to limit the damage of an attack against the system. For example, they might restore a system backup in order to rebuild the system.
No system is perfect, and this is the same for cloud service providers too. However, if you choose a provider with powerful defenses, your business can benefit from the many security advantages of using the cloud to store your data. You can additionally mitigate any risks by putting strong cybersecurity procedures in place in your own system, and ensuring that you have a backup of all data in the event of a worst-case scenario.