Are Cloud Security Fears Holding Back your Business?
Cloud computing, as I introduced in my last newsletter, is the means for accessing applications and services via the internet (or cloud) rather than installing software on your computer. This technology has taken the IT world by storm and quickly emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.
According to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft, a whopping 90 percent of Americans are currently using some form of cloud computing.
The business community however has been much slower to adopt this platform due to concerns over security risks, both real and perceived. Now, there are real reasons to be careful when moving your data into a cloud, but be sure you’re worried about the right things.
Cloud computing can actually be more secure than traditional in-house IT. Established vendors employ security experts and invest vast amounts of money into developing high-end data protection and security monitoring tools that far surpass the capabilities of any small business. Indeed, more companies face security breaches from internal employees or from lost and stolen laptops than from cloud services.
However, putting data anywhere is a risk, so due diligence must be followed. You should develop a plan that clearly defines what information, applications and services you would like in the cloud. This “roadmap” will help you determine what type of cloud services are best suited for your business.
Public clouds are the most recognizable model, where the services and infrastructure are provided off-site over the Internet. These are utilized by applications delivered over the Internet as software-as-a-service (SAAS), and computing resources such as storage of data. These clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources; however, they are also more vulnerable than private clouds.
A private cloud, or corporate cloud, is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network and applications are run behind a corporate firewall. These clouds offer the greatest level of security and control, but they require the company to still purchase and maintain all the software and infrastructure, which reduces the cost savings.
A hybrid cloud takes advantages of both of both the public and private models. Businesses can run their e-mail system in the public cloud while keeping highly sensitive, customer-oriented applications behind the firewall of the private cloud.
Whatever cloud model you choose, it is crucial that you research the confidentiality and security policies for cloud service providers and get answers to key questions.
- With whom exactly are you are doing business? Where will your data be stored?
- What safety controls are in place to ensure that your sensitive business data will not be leaked?
- How does the company protect your data against emerging security threats?
- How are these attacks detected and thwarted?
If you are not satisfied by the answers you receive, keep searching.
All responsibility should not lie with your cloud service provider, though. There are steps you should take personally to protect your data.
- Encrypt all sensitive data and make all SSL connections mandatory in cloud applications.
- Ensure that your Firewall, IPS, and IDS protect each of your virtual machines separately.
- Only decrypt your data within that secure container you’ve established for your virtual machine. Check for tampering and data stealing malware before decrypting your data.
- Make sure that you are in control of the encryption keys.
By taking these precautions and deciphering what data should and should not be put into the cloud, businesses can reap the benefits of cloud computing.
Cost Savings - Companies can realize cost savings while gaining access to top-of-the-line business applications and dramatically boosting infrastructure resources.
Improved Productivity - Productivity is improved as employees can access documents and emails while away from the office.
Collaboration - Employees and partners can collaborate more efficiently - accessing and working in the same documents in real time - without the need for hundreds of emails with attachments.
Scalable - Cloud computing is completely scalable with “pay as you go” services that allow you to easily increase your cloud use as your business grows or decrease your services if you need to downsize.
These benefits are especially attractive to small and medium sized companies, because, in essence, they narrow the playing field. While the larger more conservative companies are scratching their heads and inventing gloom and doom scenarios, small businesses who are not afraid to embrace this technology can gain the computing power previously only available to large enterprises and potentially make inroads into markets where they could not go before.
So, while cloud computing is not without concerns about security, it is poised to revolutionize the way computing is done and is helping to shape today's mobile workforce.
Are you ready to take the next step?
VodaWize Communications is a fully integrated voice and data communications company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. VodaWize utilizes strategic partnerships to give customers tailor-made solutions to optimize services while reducing overall costs, all at no cost to the customer. By leveraging these multi-vendor relationships, VodaWize provides the most efficient voice, internet, data and hosting packages to their customers. For more information visit www.VodaWize.com or call (919) 784-0021.