Cloud computing is valuable for businesses that wish to operate in today’s modern environment. The paradigm offers so many perks, such as flexibility, cost efficiency, the ability to work and collaborate remotely, and most importantly, at least for nomadic entrepreneurs, ease of accessing data from anywhere on earth. All of these perks and many more make cloud computing an excellent tool for businesses of all calibers.
Like most good things, however, cloud computing is not without its downsides. Firstly, not all companies are reputable. Secondly, depending on a business’s needs, cloud computing might not be the most cost-effective strategy. Finally, and most glaringly, the issue of security comes to mind.
Before we talk about the potential security risks of cloud computing, let’s go over some of the benefits. Most smaller firms will have difficulty properly setting up in-house security. Using cloud storage puts security in the hands of larger companies that have the necessary resources, effectively outsourcing data security. This can save time and money for small online businesses.
Keeping software up to date can prevent malware exploits. Businesses that choose to subscribe to cloud software services can save money while always having the latest versions of the applications that they use. Cloud software is more cost effective, more flexible, and potentially more secure than physical software using traditional storage media.
The very nature of cloud computing ensures that data is more secure. Uploading files to a single server can mean that if that server is down, your data is inaccessible. Cloud hosting, on the other hand, uses multiple computers in tandem acting as a singular “cloud server”. If one computer goes down, your data is still safe with the cloud. The only real hiccup that can occur is if the central server goes down. If the central server goes down, it takes the entire cloud down with it.
One of the biggest risks that any online business has is hackers. When sensitive information is stored online, proper security channels will have to be utilized to keep it safe. To date, there is no sure-fired way to ensure that our data never falls into the hands of hackers, but most large, reputable hosting providers do have security measures in play that would stave off most hacking attempts.
Aside from hackers, the terms of service of various hosting companies can be detrimental to the integrity of sensitive data. Some companies take complete ownership over anything uploaded to their cloud server. For this reason, it is best to read the terms and conditions carefully before setting up shop or uploading anything important; don’t just check the box as we are often inclined to do!
The human component is one of the greatest security risks to a company. In the past, lost storage media or laptops posed a huge threat to the data security of businesses. With cloud hosting, this aspect of human error is minimized. As long as the cloud remains online, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an Internet access. Therein lies the problem.
While machines are cold an calculating, humans may give in to childish temptations. A person with access to data anywhere in the world may be tempted to share classified information with those that should not have access to it. There are several instances of workers downloading information from their company’s server, then taking that information to rival companies once they get a new job. This can potentially cause millions of dollars worth of damage. The only way to deal with this is through severe legal punishment, but even then, it may be too little, too late.
As a business owner, you should be well-educated when it comes to fraudulent e-mails and other phishing methods that could be used to get your login credentials. You must also make sure that everyone that has access to your business’s account is also well-informed. Users that are ignorant to phishing may fall victim to it, mistakenly leak their access credentials to hostile third parties, and cause a loss of data. Due to the human factor of security, education is just as important if not more important than IT solutions in order to keep your company’s data secure.
The benefits of cloud hosting and cloud computing far outweigh the cons, but we should still keep the downsides in mind. Most of these issues with security in cloud computing are being resolved as the technology and its standards improve. A bit of research and technical know-how can fix security issues with cloud hosting and cloud computing.
A few examples of cloud computing being insecure should not deter businesses from taking advantage of this exciting and useful technology. The Cloud is not just the future, it is very much present in the here and now.