Cloud Computing: How Safe is it for Your Business?

by Chester Avey

Cloud Computing: How Safe is it for Your Business?

The way we work is constantly adapting, and in recent years the boom of cloud computing has allowed companies more freedom within their operations. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and the need for access to your data from anywhere and everywhere has become essential.

Thankfully, cloud computing and storage allow us to work from home one day, the office another, and a cafe on a different day. It also means there is no reliance upon being in one place at one time, so we have access to everything we need, whenever we want it.

Cloud computing is seen as a cost-effective storage method but, while these benefits are wonderful, just how safe is cloud computing for businesses?

What is cloud computing?

In a nutshell, the cloud is a network of servers on the internet with colossal storage facilities. These servers are held by third-party companies in large data centers that have been purposefully built with security in mind.

You can edit, send, download, and delete files from anywhere in the world as long as you have a secure internet connection. For instance, the staff who work there have extremely restricted access to the servers themselves. By relocating your server to a cloud-based facility, your business is better able to protect itself from fraud, hackers, and even physical damage.

How does the cloud benefit businesses?

As far as businesses are concerned, the ability to store their data on the cloud allows them to:

  • Store contracts centrally

  • Manage their invoices

  • Share work instantly

  • Back up important files

From using Google Docs to storing images in Dropboxes, cloud-based services are everywhere, and they’re useful, too. Storing data on the cloud means businesses don’t have to create their own storage solutions. That would typically be dedicating an area of their office to a server or relying on the assistance of contractors to come in and look after it for them.

Cloud computing also allows for IT professionals to work remotely and track issues or bugs in your system without needing to employ them full-time. It's another way of saving money, by only using the services of IT professionals when you need them.

Does cloud storage safeguard data?

Given the nature of the information stored by businesses, it must remain confidential. Not only is the intellectual property of a business a security concern but also the private information of its clients.

If your company operates in Europe, for instance, a lack of secure data could lead to a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) breach which brings with it a hefty fine. For example, Amazon has been fined a record $877 million for its data breaches.

As mentioned previously, the staff who work at cloud storage facilities have limited access to servers but that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as security is concerned. They are safe from the prying eyes of your employees as the servers are hosted off-site and they are even protected from fire damage with reduced oxygen levels.

Corrupted files are also not typically a concern as duplicates are created and stored in different facilities should any physical damage occur. There are also extensive protections in place to prevent hackers from gaining access to your storage network.

Data encryption

The big factor that protects your information from hackers is data encryption. So, if you are looking for a company that can offer you cloud storage, one of the first things to look for is data encryption. While it’s possible to provide cloud storage without it, not having encryption can leave your information vulnerable to hackers.

Files are commonly encrypted while they are being transferred from your device, protecting them from ‘middle-man’ attacks which are the modern equivalent of highway robbers. The best security is end-to-end encryption which means the files are encrypted on your device before they go anywhere. This type of cloud storage is advisable for maintaining records of sensitive information like finances, health information, or even passport data.

Moving with the times

A strong benefit of cloud storage is how it is regularly updated using best-in-class technology by the IT professionals who know how to implement it. It means that while cybercrime is always evolving, so too is cybersecurity. This level of security is typically not accessible for companies that manage their own servers.

Furthermore, the sophisticated AI tools used in cloud-based storage systems monitor, manage, and resolve issues that eliminate the potential for human error through the security line. Should an intruder make their way into a cloud storage network, alerts are sent and the threat eliminated.

Data retrieval

Those using the data can sometimes be the ones most likely to put it at risk. If you’ve ever accidentally deleted an important file, you’ll know the panic that sets in as you desperately hope that it’s still in the virtual trash can.

Cloud storage uses a method known as ‘undelete’ which acts like that virtual trash can should you delete your files by mistake. Deleted files will remain in a holding pen for a short time on a cloud-based system, allowing businesses to restore information and avoid the potential fallout from its loss.

Cloud safety concerns

No cloud storage can offer 100% protection, just like you can’t fully rely on data kept on your hard drive to be untouchable. One thing to note is that privacy and data protection laws differ around the world.

Many services will let you choose where your data is stored or, at the very least, will inform you of where they store their data. If you are based or operate in Europe you may wish to choose a company that complies with GDPR, for example.

While cloud storage is secure, you can never have too much security for important files. Backing information up on removable, offline storage safeguards sensitive information but still allows you to access it when you need it.

There have also been instances of high-profile data breaches as cybercrime continues to advance. Companies are having to beef up all aspects of their cybersecurity which has seen the rise of ethical hacking; where hackers infiltrate a company’s network to find and highlight its weaknesses.

Data ownership is another potential issue for businesses when opting for cloud computing. Some cloud storage companies take ownership of all the data that is uploaded, which might not sit too well with business owners.

Can you rely on cloud storage for your business?

Nothing is ever 100% guaranteed in life. The same goes for cloud storage but the alternatives, such as private servers, are not bulletproof either. Many believe cloud computing is the better option and cloud adoption statistics show that over 90% of companies are utilizing the cloud in 2020.

Chester Avey

Cybersecurity Expert

With more than a decade of experience in B2B cyber-security, I provide articles and content of real value to readers on topics including cyber-security, information assurance, business growth, software solutions and ecommerce.