While cloud computing can offer businesses of all sizes a wide range of benefits, such as lower costs, greater scalability and improved efficiency, moving from traditional on-premise solutions to these alternatives is not without its difficulties. And increasingly, one of the biggest worries for many small and medium-sized firms is how they can ensure their sensitive data will be safe when it is not stored on their own servers.
This is something that’s a particular concern at the moment. There have been several high-profile incidents in the last few months of data breaches at some of the world’s largest brands – though none of these have involved cloud technology. However, some concerns have been expressed about the cloud after hackers gained access to several accounts on Apple’s consumer-focused iCloud storage system, leading to the private pictures of many celebrities being revealed.
As a result, confidence in the cloud has taken a hit in recent times. Research by BT Security reveals 76 per cent of IT decision makers rate security as their number one concern over used cloud tools. What’s more, 49 per cent of respondents admit they are ‘very or extremely anxious’ about the security implications of these tools.
But despite these worries, many companies’ experiences of cloud computing are still centred around consumer-based tools, which often do not have the enterprise-grade encryption and authentication solutions that firms require. BT’s research found half of organisations have adopted mass-market consumer tools, with 44 per cent holding the belief that these applications and services are as effective as using those designed specifically for enterprise users.
The right solutions for business
However, in practice, it is likely to be the case that consumer tools are not good enough for business users. Solutions that are designed from the ground up for the enterprise will come with much tougher security protections – which for many small and medium-sized firms will likely be stronger than what they would be able to implement on their own on-premises solutions.
Plus, when companies agree contracts with enterprise-grade solutions, they get much clearer reassurances of what protections are in place, as well as which responsibilities lie with the provider and which with the customers. This can give organisations the peace of mind they need in order to ensure their data is always safe.
Asking the right questions
That’s why when choosing a cloud provider, it’s essential to ask a few key questions about where data will be stored and who is able to access it.
For instance, businesses need to ascertain where their data will be physically stored and what backups will be available should a data centre be taken offline. This will not only answer any issues about the reliability of the service, but it can also reassure companies about any data governance issues they may have if data is stored in another territory with different data protection legislation.
Businesses will also need to know who can see to their data. Good cloud providers will guarantee that only people within your organisation have access to the information, by providing each user with their own unique login credentials – which can be customised for each user with restrictions as appropriate.
Finally, questions about what will happen to data at the end of a contract need to be answered – and here, nothing short of assurances that all company information will be deleted from a cloud provider’s servers should be good enough.
By planning ahead and getting satisfactory answers to these questions, businesses can rest easy knowing that their critical data is in good hands, leaving them free to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing without having to worry about security.