Is it really safe to use the cloud?

Cloud storage is without doubt growing in popularity as it offers a whole host of benefits that can allow businesses of all sizes to evolve their IT provision without the costs associated with installing expensive hardware, software updates or providing space for the servers.

However with the recent media scare stories surrounding celebrity cloud based social media accounts being hacked and exposed, businesses are understandably concerned about how safe cloud based servers are, and feel ill at ease with having customer and staff data and financial records leaving their offices.

These concerns are obviously leading many business owners to question whether the risks outweigh the benefits of moving to the cloud.

The simple answer is no.

The cloud has evolved because the way we work is very different to how we’ve ever worked. It facilitates greater flexibility for the workforce allowing access to documents anytime, anywhere, on any device meaning that they can work on the road, from home if needs be and allows for ease of collaboration so everyone can work on the same master document.

Security is at the top of the agenda of all cloud providers… they simply wouldn’t have a business if they couldn’t provide customers with the reassurance that their data was safe. Most, if not all will be fully regulated and certified by independent standards bodies.

Data is not only stored but it is backed up continuously too ensuring that if their servers go down for whatever reason, there will be robust disaster recovery plans to ensure business continuity.

In all honestly public facing cloud based services such as Facebook and LinkedIn are the focus of the hackers and are under constant attack as they hold the most precious data and in the case of the celebrities, personal pictures.

Whilst being on these sites can make good business sense, businesses need to make a point of managing their use effectively to insure business desktops aren’t being infected by malicious links looking for staff to download data stealing malware.

So what can you do ensure your business is safe using the cloud? Well that all depends on the size of your business and the level of data that you’re putting on the cloud, below are few pointers that should be considered:
  • Check your providers’ credentials. Find out where the data is stored and what measures they have in place to protect your information. If it’s stored abroad it may contravene local data protection laws and regulations.
  • Invest in security software that includes cloud based threat protection, which will ensure threats are intercepted before they even reach your device.
  • Consider a cloud based secure back up and online sync service that stays on your premises.
  • If using Facebook or LinkedIn ensure that passwords are strong, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. It is good housekeeping to change them regularly.
  • Never give out passwords, even to someone claiming to be from technical support.
  • Encrypt data wherever possible. If your cloud storage works through a Web app, look for ‘https’ instead of ‘http’ in front of the URL in your browser’s address bar – the ‘s’ indicates the form is using secure HTTP.
The cloud and associated business software such as Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint are without doubt brilliant enablers for business and it’s something that all businesses will have to consider at some stage as the technology advances. It can help your business become more agile by giving staff the tools to work faster and more efficiently, and increase productivity, but security must remain at the fore and good housekeeping will help prevent any data dramas.