Should You Move Your Business to the Cloud?

August 14, 2016
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More and more business owners are moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The benefits are numerous: reduced It costs, reduced energy consumption, better efficiency in collaboration, scalability, and automatic updates. But maintaining the security of valuable business and client data is still paramount to avoiding data loss or compromise.

Precautions

Business owners should consider the following before adopting cloud services in their company:

More and more business owners are moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The benefits are numerous: reduced It costs, reduced energy consumption, better efficiency in collaboration, scalability, and automatic updates. But maintaining the security of valuable business and client data is still paramount to avoiding data loss or compromise.

Precautions

Business owners should consider the following before adopting cloud services in their company:

  • A cloud computing environment is considerably more complex than a traditional data center.

  • The cloud is, by definition, a shared environment. Using a public cloud service means sharing resources and components with other users.

  • Even in secure cloud environments, there is always the potential for unintended data disclosure, either through a security compromise or difficulty obtaining consent for data made available on the cloud.

  • Legal and privacy concerns may arise when information is stored overseas.

Advantages

Those precautions in mind, there are still many efficiency and cost advantages to the cloud.

  • Flexibility. With IT resources outsourced, scaling up for bandwidth demands is offloaded onto remote servers. Employees also gain flexibility by being able to work outside the office.

  • Collaboration. When resources are shared in a cloud environment, resources can be accessed from anywhere, meaning staff can also collaborate on corporate assets and proposals from anywhere. This saves money and time with projects like logo redesign, where concepts and designs must pass through several rounds of revision and feedback from multiple parties.  

  • Disaster Recovery. Data shared to the cloud can most often be easily recovered or rolled back in case of disaster. This also reduces the need to implement local backup and recovery solutions, though there are still major advantages to redundancy.

Security Concerns

While cloud computing has numerous security benefits, it’s still important to maintain proper security within your office. Here are a few best practices for business owners looking to outsource their IT infrastructure. These practices should be compiled into a full security policy, to be shared with your employees.  

Social Engineering Awareness: As with a traditional IT setup, the machines themselves are often not the greatest point of vulnerability. Social engineering techniques, such as a phone call (ostensibly from the IT department) asking for sensitive information, are common sources of compromise. Another common hacking method, phishing, involves spoofed emails that look official but contain links to malicious websites.

Make sure your employees are properly trained, so that they are aware of these vulnerabilities and know how to deal with them. This includes not only desktop workstations, but smartphones, tablets, laptops, and any other device that will make use of the company’s cloud resources.

Anti-Malware Solutions: Malware is an enormous problem in corporate computing. Malicious software can obtain user data, security credentials, and other sensitive data without the knowledge of the user. Further, some anti-malware software on the market is itself malware in disguise.

Make sure you have anti-virus software installed across your local infrastructure and kept up to date, and instruct your employees on how to avoid malicious websites, unrecognized attachments, and other potential security holes. These vulnerabilities can be potentially more significant when cloud computing is part of your IT infrastructure.

Activity Monitoring: Another potential advantage of cloud computing is the availability of monitoring tools. Many services provide data on how their service is being used. You should check with your provider and review this data for any possible vulnerabilities or compromises. Suspicious logins, unauthorized file transfers, or other occurrences can be dealt with in a timely fashion — but only if you review the data and learn about them.

Password Security: It’s important to your company’s IT security to maintain best practices for passwords at all times, and this becomes even more critical when resources are shared to a public cloud. You should not only train your staff on how to make secure passwords but implement two-factor authentication whenever possible.