You’ve probably been using “cloud computing” for a while — possibly without realizing it. You use “the cloud” for file storage with programs like iTunes or Amazon Music, Dropbox and Google Drive. Files you use are stored on a third-party server so you can always access them.
But do you know much about “cloud security,” and how it can impact your business?
The Basics of Cloud Security
Instead of relying on a firewall to keep your company data safe, cloud security adds many different layers of security that work to foil any would-be hackers.
Why is basic data so valuable? Everything from employee records (think: social security numbers and passwords) to customer data (think: credit card numbers and personal details) can be monetized if stolen.
Learn more about the financial impacts of even a basic data breach.
Know the Difference: Old vs. New Security
Traditional IT security often includes in-house data centers that are manned by an in-house IT team. Cloud security centers exist in third-party data centers and don’t require you to put money into infrastructure (like a large server room and personnel to manage it) at your brick-and-mortar location.
Traditional IT security also usually involves one main operator, whether it’s your team of personnel and the servers they manage, or a contracted service with their own data center (possibly beside another client’s machines). With cloud security, you might engage several third-party teams who specialize in different aspects of cloud security. One might focus on data storage, while another ensures compliance with international data laws, and a third conducts analysis to make sure customer credit card information is secure.
Why the Cloud Can Help You
Cloud security, as mentioned above, allows you to be more robust with your security measures. Controls and access can be fine-tuned down to the individual employee user and how that data is (or isn’t) allowed to travel both inside your network and from the cloud to the network and back again.
You can avoid data breaches, DDoS attacks and even increase your website or cloud-based application’s availability by using a well-appointed cloud security system. Cloud security often prevents attacks and breaches by increasing the encryption and complexity by which data is transferred. In the end, you’re wrapping up your company’s precious cargo (all your stored data) and delivering it faster and more securely to only the appropriate users and customers. Pretty great, huh?
Before You Go Cloud: What to Keep in Mind
When you’re shopping for a potential cloud security provider, you’ll want to double check their ability to ensure:
- Data is encrypted while it’s “at rest” in servers and in transit, even while being accessed by authorized users.
- What kind of software is the cloud security provider using? How frequently is it updated and monitored for risks and threats? What is the provider’s protocol if a breach is detected? If one part of your cloud has a security issue, does that mean your entire company grinds to a halt?
- Know as much about the cloud security team and their employees as possible. If only two people have access to your entire company’s data, it’s one thing. It will be a different story if two hundred of their employees have access.
- Where is the cloud located? Yes, clouds have homes. If you’re using an international cloud host, you’ll want to make sure that local laws don’t impede or compromise your data’s safety or access at all. Have your IT and legal teams work together to ensure you’re not going to be infringing on any U.S. laws (such as HIPPA) or international laws by your choice of cloud security provider.
- The cloud changes quickly. Threats and advancements both grow at amazing rates these days. You’ll want to keep on top of changes in cloud security and make adjustments as needed to protocols and the scale of your operations.
In addition, Kyle Brucker, Managing Director at PayneWest says that the provider shouldn’t put all your data eggs in one basket, so to speak.
“If you are solely relying on cloud services to store your data, you may want to make sure the cloud provider is storing your data in more than one geographic location,” Brucker says. “In other words, if you only have your data being stored in Florida, what happens if there’s a hurricane and the data center loses connectivity? If your data also resides in another region of the country, your daily operations should not be negatively affected.”
Brucker also notes that you should make sure that the cloud is right for your security needs.
“Your cloud provider should also be able to provide you with a disaster recovery plan in the event of a catastrophic event,” he says. “In other words, if the worst happens, how soon will you be back up and running?”
Bottom line, cloud security can be a great solution for your business, no matter how big or small you are. But you shouldn’t just jump into cloud security as a one-size-fits-all solution. Start slow, do your research and don’t forget that you can always scale up your cloud solutions at your own pace.