Mission (im)possible: Keeping Data Safe in the Cloud

keep data safe in the cloud

This is a contribution by Nate M. Vickery.

With the appearance of cloud-based services, the world of online business has seen a huge change, revolution even.

The idea that everything is stored online, thus rendering the files accessible to anyone related to one’s company is a bold step towards increasing the efficiency of doing business online.

With things seemingly perfect, there is always a catch, and when it comes to the Cloud, it rests with various safety and privacy problems.

Keep reading to learn more about how to mitigate the risks that come with storing your data in the cloud.

Best business practices: Keeping your data safe in the cloud. #businesstips #businessowners #dataprivacy

What is the Cloud?

For those who have been hiding under a rock, in a cave for past couple of years, the explanation of cloud-based systems could not be any simpler – the general idea is to have a platform, accessible by anyone from the company at any given moment, via any connected PC device.

And with improvements in the fields of smartphones and tablets, the Cloud has seen even a greater deal of success.

The Perks of Cloud Storage

Years ago, if you had a business, you had to constantly worry about safety of your work-related material. Unforeseeable disasters like floods, fires and power outages meant that you lost everything you had worked so hard for, or at least a part of it. A great number of flourishing businesses with bright futures went under at their pinnacle due to occurrences like these.

With the Cloud systems of today, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, you basically get to back up your files directly onto an easily-accessible platform, available 24/7 so long as you have internet access. What better way to sleep easily, knowing that your files and data are stored at a virtual place that can never be flooded or burned?

The Downsides: Privacy and Security Risks

Of course, having your information out in the open does come with its own risks. As soon as you make the files accessible to someone other than yourself, the chances that things will go wrong increase.

Having the data available for the entire company (which is the general idea), can turn out to be quite a nightmare. But this is not where the troubles end for the cloud-based systems.

Turns out that they are also quite easily hackable. Reports of a sophisticated cyber espionage campaign called Dragonfly hacking their way through cloud-based systems of energy grid operators, petroleum pipeline operators and major electricity generation firms, are all over the cyber-world.

The specific risks include vendor transparency, inadequate service level agreement, legal compliance, records preservation, access, management privacy, and confidentiality of regulated data. The list goes on and on.

One thing is for certain – certain safety precautions have to be taken.

So what can a business owner do keep their data safe in the cloud?

Well, in addition to various policies and legislations that serve for protection, the user gets to decide how and in what shape the data is stored. This means that one can always opt for encrypting the files or hire IT experts to do so. Of course, we do recommend the latter, but this is rarely enough.

Data Encryption

A new solution has emerged that enables the user to calculate in the cloud while the data is being encrypted. If anyone should steal the data from a cloud-based system with this kind of protection, they will only see encrypted data. This security measure, while a bit slower, provides a higher level of protection.

Symantec, an IT security software and system vendor, created a platform called O3, that provides single sign-on and enforces access control policies on all web applications. Then there is a wide range of remote login software solutions, designed to keep you, your company and its data safe and sound.

As the cloud is expanding, the security threats follow in suit. But even the simplest of the safety tactics should never be taken for granted.

Don't Store Sensitive Data in the Cloud

Another way of protecting valuable information is by not using the Cloud at all. Let me elaborate.

Most companies produce three kids of data:

  1. Public data
  2. Sensitive data
  3. Top secret data

While the first two can freely be uploaded to the Cloud, things like system requirements and public infrastructure should be kept off it, no matter the security measures available, just to be safe. Remember, there are plenty of hackers out there who could bring your business to its knees.

Read the Terms of Agreement

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms of user agreement. This does not mean that you should skim through the lengthy document, but read it in detail, or hire a legal professional to do so. Not all cloud systems have the same policies when it comes to security. The only way to get the real feel of what is offered is to thoroughly read the terms of agreement.

Craft a Secure Password

Having a strong password can also go a long way in keeping your data safe and sound. No matter how high the level of security you opted for is, if your password is hackable, it was all in vein. Those that have little or nothing to do with you as a person are the best.

This level of password strength can be easily achieved by, for example, selecting a random word that has nothing to do with you, in particular. Then, add the name of the site or platform you are logging into. So, for example, a relatively strong LinkedIn password would be “cucumberlinkedin”. If you add random numbers to it, it only becomes stronger.

While cloud systems do not excel at safety on their own, adding these security measures can go a long way towards making your online data storage safe.

Remember the simple things, like passwords and encryption, but never neglect the importance of having IT professionals and various security systems to back you up. By doing so, you may well have managed to make your cloud a completely safe place.

About the Author

Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant from Sydney, Australia. His fields of expertise are company management and efficient work environment.

© 2014- Nathalie Lussier Media Inc. dba AccessAlly™. All rights reserved.