Among the many benefits of the cloud is the significantly enhanced security available to businesses seeking to protect their valuable data.
But while the trend of moving sensitive information to the cloud has grown over the past few years, some business leaders still question the value of cloud security over traditional private servers. They want to know if cloud technology is genuinely safeguarded against the ever-present menace of hackers and other threats to their data privacy efforts.
Here’s an in-depth look at the benefits of the cloud, specifically in terms of data security, storage efficiency and the potential to dramatically reduce data-related expenses.
Until recently, the most common form of data security resided in anti-theft software installed in a company’s on-site computers or server hardware. These in-house options required considerable expenditures (for, among other things, the purchase, installation and maintenance of equipment for the data center). There was also the question of just how foolproof an on-site server could be in protecting against sophisticated hacking efforts.
By contrast, a cloud data service “is a remote version of a data center — located somewhere away from your company’s physical premises — that lets you access your data through the internet,” as Business News Daily notes. A cloud provider company is hired to maintain and update cloud technology, “often owning multiple data centers in several geographic locations to safeguard your data during outages,” attempts at breaching data and so on.
A cloud data center typically incorporates many layers of safeguards built-in, from controlling who has access to information to sophisticated authentication and encryption services. When these safeguards are combined with a company’s own data security measures, the level of protection can withstand most attempts to hack or compromise valuable information.
Also, there’s basically no limit to data-storage capacity in the cloud. While a business must, of course, pay for services provided by a cloud provider, this cost can be balanced against the expenses related to building and maintaining an on-site data center of its own (construction, hardware, maintaining utilities, labor, etc.).
The cloud also offers protection from other threats and enhances opportunities for business growth. One of those additional safeguards is disaster recovery. If a large-scale disaster strikes the region in which your business is located, what happens to your company’s data? Damage to an in-house data center could be catastrophic, with organizations having little ability to recover lost data (or do so in a timely manner). This could also mean days or weeks of business closure due to a lack of access to this information.
Information stored in the cloud, however, wouldn’t be affected in this scenario. Rapid data recovery is built into the system, so a business can keep operating even if its physical infrastructure is damaged or impaired.
Businesses also need to consider equipment malfunctions. Information kept on-site is always at risk of being compromised or lost due to computer malfunctions, human error or hardware wear-and-tear. Data stored in the cloud isn’t subject to these risks and stays within reach through any authorized employee’s computer, day or night, wherever he or she is located.
What’s more, the cloud also offers the ability to scale. If your business is expanding quickly, trying to store ever-increasing amounts of data on-site can generate expenses at a time when your resources may be stretched thin sustaining that growth. Addressing the need for greater bandwidth is simpler when information is cloud-based, as opposed to the costs involved in expanding physical infrastructure to accommodate increased data capacity.
Given these considerations, it’s clear that business owners should carefully weigh the benefits of the cloud versus the expense and labor investment required by a private data center.
Whatever your choice regarding data storage, it’s imperative that your IT team (or outsourced IT professionals) do everything possible to secure sensitive business information. How can you help?
Firstly, make sure your company understands cybersecurity and recognizes the risks. At the heart of every data security initiative is the need to create a culture of awareness in the workplace. As global security company Kaspersky Lab Daily notes, employees “may make mistakes that put their company’s data or systems at risk — either because they are careless and accidentally slip up — or even because they do not have the required training” to carry out the appropriate response to hacker attempts at infiltrating the company’s systems.
Business leaders should encourage their IT professionals to promote key elements of a cybersecurity culture. Step one is to only use secure passwords. Company policy must address access, passwords and the role authentication plays in sharing and accessing information. Employees need to be thoroughly trained in these procedures.
It’s also important to follow proper information preservation protocols. Backing up data is essential for maintaining your business information’s integrity. Generally speaking, a cloud-based solution is preferable to an on-premises server, seeing as “one wrong click or download by an employee can destroy all your critical company data.”
Another way you can stay one step ahead is to get trained in detecting cyberattacks. The more employees know about the various types of cyberattacks, the more cautious they’ll be if something suspicious pops up in their email. Outline a comprehensive policy, including: what to watch for; actions to take; how to contact IT immediately if an issue occurs; and all other aspects of proper use of business computers, both on the premises and in the world at large.
And lastly, data protection needs to be an ongoing process. Complementing employee training is leadership’s efforts to keep this urgent topic top-of-mind for everyone in the organization. Consider sending out brief weekly emails alerting the team to the latest threats, requiring attendance at monthly cybersecurity webinars and inviting employee suggestions on how to better secure and protect data.
High-level detection of cybertheft is, of course, your IT professionals’ responsibility. But no one in the company (leadership included) should be allowed to forget about threats to cybersecurity or allow their own personal data-protection efforts to lapse. There’s a lot at stake for everyone involved — but with the cloud’s data security and your own internal efforts, your business can stay one step ahead.
To help do that, consider tapping into a new resource provided through a partnership between Mastercard and the Global Cyber Alliance. Their free Cybersecurity Toolkit and Readiness Program was tailor-made for small and medium-sized businesses and provides tips and clear guidance on how to combat the continuing risks presented by cyberattacks.
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