Moving to “the cloud” is good business sense – cloud services make financial sense as opposed to the costly real estate involved with server expansion and never-ending data needs. But how can you protect yourself and your data in something you can’t see, touch, or control?
“Change is scary.”
It’s a phrase often uttered in response to big news that means change on the grand scale; something big is looming. The reference to change being “scary” really concerns human nature and the fear of the unknown. But are we really afraid of the unknown? Or is this more concerning apprehension over something we don’t fully understand?
You’ll pay a small fortune to a therapist to get the answers to all of those questions, but the bottom line is that change makes us nervous for all of those reasons. When the discussion turns to the cloud, this intangible and invisible “thing” that is ever-evolving and so adaptable that it’s seemingly different for everyone, our collective guard is up.
The reality is that the cloud is only invisible to us – these storage servers do physically exist somewhere, using another entity’s real estate and power supply. Hired staff maintain and protect these servers on your behalf. The cloud is scalable based on your needs, meaning you can secure more or less storage space as your business needs change. Win-win-win, right?
Yes and no.
Myth: I’m paying someone else to store my data, so the security burden is on them.
Fact: It’s your data being stored in the cloud, so you still need to think about security. You must protect the information of customers and clients, and if there is a data breach or other cybersecurity vulnerability, there is still a liability.
Myth: Cloud providers are super high-tech and impenetrable.
Fact: Your data is stored on third-party servers and accessed via an Internet connection. Any reputable cloud solution provider employs stringent security measures and keeps abreast of the latest cybersecurity news – so you don’t have to. That doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t need to worry about secure access and taking every precaution to prevent unauthorized access through a breach on your end.
Myth: My cloud solution knows what they’re doing, so I don’t have to.
Fact: You are paying an expert to provide you a service, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be aware or your team doesn’t need to be knowledgeable. More importantly, why would you not want to know how your cloud provider is protecting you – and your data. Would you be concerned if servers were stored in an unlocked and unguarded facility? What about if your data was backed up on hard drives that sat exposed to the elements or accessible to anyone? Or worse – if your data wasn’t being backed up at all? That’s like letting your staff keep passwords to their network or cloud access on a notepad on their desktop for the world to see! Don’t let human error be responsible for a breach – keep informed.
- Did you know that more than half of organizations, especially those classified as “small and medium businesses (SMBs)”, that experience a data loss, whether from cybersecurity breach or not – result in a catastrophic impact and aren’t able to recover? That means if there is a data breach, the odds aren’t in your favor to recover at all.
The most important thing to remember is that a 100% cybersecurity guarantee isn’t possible, but that every business can take steps to make sure they’re protected, and so is their cloud service access. How can you make sure your data is secure?
Establish a formal process with your team.
- Does each member of your team understand their responsibility as it relates to security measures? Maybe – but the only way to make sure every team member is taking every precaution is to define what measures are in place and what steps need to be taken to protect the brand, the organization, and its data.
- Ensure the formal process is part of the new team member onboarding so that all staff have the information and understand what is expected – including executives.
Follow the latest security best practices.
- Is your network secure? If your IT staff is in-house, make sure there is a process for continuing education. If your organization outsources your managed processes, make sure your trusted partner is employing these same best practices and communicates needs with your organization timely and clearly.
- Are passwords complex? Do passwords contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, plus numbers and symbols? Are passwords routinely changed? Passwords shouldn’t be reused in multiple locations, either, and should be unique to users.
- Is data backed up? As many as 20% of back-ups are incomplete or corrupt, and some systems are fundamentally flawed. If your organization backs-up your own data, even a fraction of your stored data, make sure it’s stored in a secured location with these same best practices above.
- Are desktop workstations, mobile access machines, and remote technology all equipped with the latest in active antivirus software?
Proactivity and consistency.
- This is probably the most important part of any cybersecurity process.
- Does your organization provide ongoing training to team members to make sure security measures are kept updated and consistent? Operator error is the most common cause of a data breach!
- “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Never are these words truer than in the case of data security! Protecting your data is essentially protecting yourself from cybercriminals who seek to access your data for illicit gain. Proactive protective safeguards, consistently deployed, really will go the farthest in terms of protecting your organization’s future.
Is the cloud right for you? You may not have a choice. Recent estimates show that costs and other factors will require organizations to use the cloud in some manner within the next five years and that the next decade will see a massive migration to the cloud to leverage the technology and the many benefits that cloud services can offer.
Are you considering a move to the cloud but aren’t sure if it’s right for you? Prepare now, and when the time comes for you to make the change, it won’t seem so scary. Is the sky the limit on potential? Nah – we say there’s no limit!