Are you thinking about switching to cloud computing, but are unsure about your data's security? Here's your guide to data security in cloud computing.
Has all the buzz about the cloud convinced you to make the switch?
88% of businesses now rely on public cloud computing. It's an effective way to adopt more flexible methods of working and comes with many advantages over traditional storage. But if you're not there yet, you might be wondering how it'll affect the security of your operations.
Data security in cloud computing does have some key differences from traditional storage. That's why we've put together this helpful guide to walk you through it.
What is the Cloud?
The cloud has all the makings of a business buzzword, so let's dispel any confusion before we start.
"The cloud" is simply a slightly-poetic metaphor for Internet-based storage. To demystify it, it's the exact same principle behind your email account. Just like your emails, cloud computing stores and manages files on remote servers rather than your local machine.
The cloud isn't any one location. It's a term referring to the server or servers used to store your information. If you're ever uploaded anything online, you've already used the cloud.
The majority of businesses contract out their cloud services to a third-party provider. That allows them to tap into the cloud's advantages without the need to hire qualified staff and purchase expensive equipment.
Security and the Cloud
Data security in cloud computing isn't harder - but it is different. It comes with new risks, but many of the strategies to deal with them aren't so different than those for local storage.
Institutions from banks to the federal government use cloud services, which should tell you that it's possible to secure cloud computing to a compliance level.
The biggest challenge is staying informed. Let's take a look at the risks and benefits of the cloud as it relates to your data.
The biggest risk associated with the cloud is that your data is now accessible to more people than ever.
That makes encryption and staff awareness even more important. Without strong policies in place, you run the risk of your data becoming accessible to third parties.
Assuming you're using a cloud hosting service, you're also handing off direct responsibility for your data while remaining liable for it. If anything goes wrong, it'll be on you - even if you had no control over the breach.
You're relying on your host to have their security in order. In a worst-case scenario, a malign cloud host could even access your data illegally.
But there's a lot of good we can say about data security in cloud computing, too.
For instance, the technology used in cloud computing is often more up-to-date than that used in local machines. Obsolete software is a hacker's best friend, so many cloud servers are safer simply because they're further ahead in the security vs intrusion arms race.
Likewise, professional services host and manage cloud servers. That means the people in control of the servers often know a lot more about data security than your internal IT team would - if you even have one. It's part of their core business, so they can't afford to not know it.
Cloud hosting often comes with robust backup systems due to its distributed nature. In theory, good cloud hosting makes it nearly impossible to lose data due to corruption or physical destruction.
Combine that with a robust support service in the event of a problem, and your data may actually be safer with your cloud host than stored locally on your servers.
Staying Secure with Cloud Computing
There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure data security in cloud computing. No system is 100% hack-proof, but a few best practices go a long way.
1. Data Management
One of the simplest ways to limit your vulnerability when using the cloud is to control how you use it.
You don't need to adopt the cloud by dumping all your company data on it. Instead, come up with a solid scheme for what information you'll make available through the cloud.
If you're trying to move to a flexible workforce, you might only need to make certain tools available. That way, you can keep more sensitive information under your direct management.
2. Staff Training
Training staff to be aware of data security is never the easiest task. But it's all the more important when dealing with the cloud.
You need to carefully manage data held in the cloud. Your team needs to tightly control access permissions, and ensure extra awareness if they're using devices in public places.
For instance, password discipline is paramount - unless you'd like a stranger in a coffee shop to access your data while your employee takes a toilet break.
To manage the cloud, you need to turn data security into a company culture. You'll need to drum it into your workforce from initial training through to frequent reminders.
3. Choosing a Reputable Provider
Choosing the wrong cloud services provider is the biggest mistake you could make for your data security.
As we've mentioned, cloud services need to have strong data security to do their job. If you choose one with poor internal practices, you're exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
A good provider will understand data security. They'll update their software and hardware frequently to stay ahead of vulnerabilities. They'll also have a solid backup and recovery strategy.
You can assess your provider by finding testimonials about their service. You can also ask them directly about the kind of security expertise and technology they use.
A good provider will be communicative and willing to answer your questions. If they aren't reliable in these early stages, they'll be useless in an emergency.
Ensuring Data Security in Cloud Computing
Your data security doesn't have to take a hit just because you've switched to the cloud. You should now have good working knowledge of what you're dealing with, which is the first step to protecting your data in the modern age.
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