Technology has dramatically altered how business is conducted all around the world, making it possible for operations to run more efficiently without being limited by geography or physical space. One of the most practical innovations is cloud storage. Cloud storage allows users to save their data in remote servers that can be accessed via the internet. This means that companies do not need to maintain their physical servers in their offices as they can use the cloud for their storage and computing needs.
As internet speeds around the globe continuously improve, more and more businesses are shifting their data to the cloud. In fact, as of 2019, findings show that 94% of enterprises use a cloud service. However, just like any other piece of technology, there are pros and cons of using the cloud, with security being one of the main threats. While many people are somehow aware that such threats exist, this does not deter them from using the cloud for their business data.
Why do businesses prefer cloud storage?
For many small and medium businesses, using cloud storage is a cost-effective solution because it is much cheaper than having physical servers and external storage drives. According to a survey conducted by Datometry, cost-cutting is one of the top reasons why businesses shift to the cloud.
If the storage needs of the business are not that huge, there are platforms like Google Drive that provides up to 15 gigabytes of free storage. If more storage is required, businesses can easily upgrade by paying a reasonable amount or go for Google Drive alternatives that offer more storage and features. This can give companies massive financial savings compared to buying expensive physical storage that, more often than not, ends up being unused.
Accessibility is another reason why businesses use cloud storage. Employees can have 24/7 access to business documents as long as they have internet connection. This removes the need for late-night trips to the office or unreliable usage of USB drives and external drives to retrieve files.
Using the cloud also allows businesses to hire remote employees who live in different locations and time zones. Studies have shown that having remote workers can save businesses a considerable amount of money as well as improve the productivity of their staff.
Are you endangering your business data in the cloud?
With cost being the primary driver why many companies use cloud storage, there is mostly an unconcerned attitude on whether this decision will impact the security of their business data. Anyone can easily start using a cloud storage service ASAP and this convenience usually overrules any need for caution.
It is a fact that there are security risks involved in using cloud services. Even the largest companies in the world are not immune to these data problems. It doesn’t mean, however, that using a cloud service automatically exposes you to all of these risks.
If you carelessly use the cloud without any security considerations such as not screening the company you are using or restricting who has access to your files, then yes, you are endangering your business data. However, if you implement smart security measures, you can minimise these risks and enjoy the benefits of cloud storage with increased peace of mind.
The first step is to update yourself on what types of threats you can encounter when using cloud storage for your business. By knowing what these threats are, it will be more manageable to prevent them from happening.
Privacy and Data Leakage
When you have an in-house office server, you are in full control of your data. However, signing up for a cloud service means that you are effectively entrusting your assets to a third-party company. It’s just like storing your belongings inside your house versus a storage facility someone else owns. This could compromise your data privacy as other parties may have access to your confidential data if you do not choose your cloud service provider thoughtfully.
If privacy is one of your main concerns, there are now many different cloud storage options that offer strict security measures including end-to-end encryption and zero knowledge privacy. End-to-end encryption means that your data is encrypted at all times whether it is on the servers or in transit. Zero knowledge privacy, on the other hand, means that the cloud provider will not store your password and it cannot access your encryption keys.
Do you still maintain a physical storage drive or is everything you have stored in the cloud? This is an important question because while many companies use the cloud as a backup storage solution, many also use it as their main storage – with no backup. This makes companies vulnerable to data loss.
While many cloud services ensure that they maintain multiple backups of your files, there is no turning back in case your data is compromised and lost. The only guarantee is to have a physical backup or if you cannot afford to do so, maintain a backup using a different cloud storage platform for your most important data assets.
Vulnerability to Cyber Attacks
Another threat associated with using cloud services is your potential exposure to hacking, malware, ransomware, spyware, and other cybercrimes. Even if you are just a small company and you think your data is not really hack-worthy, if your cloud provider is exposed to a cyber-attack, then you are also going to be affected.
It is then critical to choose your cloud provider very diligently. Don’t go for a cloud storage service just because it’s free or dirt-cheap. Make sure that the cloud service that you are using is reliable and offers security guarantees and protection.
Human error is still ranked as one of the top reasons why IT issues occur. When it comes to using cloud storage, human error can also result in compromising your business data. Users can delete the data accidentally or even intentionally. If you have multiple users, it is also possible for them to infect your data with malware unintentionally if they are using their own devices or working remotely.
Businesses can minimise human error by limiting access to files especially when it comes to confidential data. With some cloud services, you can also restrict which users can alter or edit the files.
Protecting your data in the cloud
With the majority of businesses now using the cloud, taking advantage of this service is a no-brainer. Being aware of security threats and taking steps to avoid them can protect your business data and minimise potential risks.