There’s A Lot More in the Clouds than Snow
Data Privacy Day is January 28th, and it’s a great opportunity to evaluate how you handle and store your company’s sensitive data. Cloud storage is a very popular method: 63% of small businesses use the cloud to store their company data and files, and that number appears to be on the rise. But as with most technology, it comes with risk. So what can you do to ensure that your – and your customers’ – data is kept private?
What is the Cloud?
Instead of being saved on the hard drive of your computer, data and files in the cloud are stored on offsite servers and sent to you through the internet. The complexity of cloud solutions varies, and businesses can choose to deploy a cloud-only network infrastructure or use a hybrid of traditional and cloud-based software.
There are many reputable cloud providers in the market, and using one often makes good security (and business) sense:
- If your device is lost or stolen, your data can’t be accessed without your login credentials. Additionally, data is easily recovered by accessing the cloud from a new device.
- Cloud infrastructure speeds business recovery in the case of natural disaster.
- A cloud backup as part of your 3-2-1 backup strategy helps to protect data against physical destruction or malware.
But no matter the reputation of your cloud provider, you’re still handing your sensitive data over to a third party, which means you lose some control over how it’s protected.
Bring Your Cloud to Cloud Nine
The good news is that risk of using cloud storage can be reduced by prioritizing security and following best practices. Considering the sensitive data being stored in the cloud, you can’t afford not to.
Key steps to take when vetting your cloud provider and setting up your system are:
- Thoroughly review your cloud provider’s privacy and security policies: How are they collecting, using, storing, and protecting your data?
- Pay attention to traditional network infrastructure concerns like employee permission levels – these are still important in a cloud system.
- Ensure you have a third party backup of data in case something goes wrong (e.g. ransomware). Some cloud providers keep backups for you, but it’s not a 100% guarantee that your data will be protected.
And remember to weave security into your daily operations:
- Use strong, unique passwords (and a password vault, if necessary) and two-factor authentication for each cloud solution.
- Ensure that your Technology and Data Use Policy covers rules around using cloud solutions.
- Include cloud applications in your employee offboarding plan to ensure they don’t have access to data after leaving the company.
Cloud storage can certainly be effective for your company, but in terms of security, it’s only as good as you make it. This Data Privacy Day, remember that when it comes to data, privacy, and security, you really don’t want to have your head in the clouds.
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