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Ways to Keep Your SMB Secure and Private in the Cloud

May 15, 2014

Cloud computing has proven to be beneficial for businesses of all sizes in meeting business demands; it offers increase in scalability, flexibility and agility, while still allowing companies to save on IT costs. This is critical, especially for SMBs looking for cost-effective solutions. Businesses migrating to any cloud platforms (adopting private, hybrid or public models) wish to maximize cloud technology potential to increase productivity. A transition to the cloud helps to reduce and consolidate IT arrangements on-site and gain tools to enhance communication and engage in collaboration, and companies can run their processes more easily and effectively, whenever and wherever, as well.

As told in a recent Huffington Post (News - Alert) article, using cloud technology can be beneficial as providers have a “full-time job to invest in physical and digital security infrastructure; rarely does a SMB have the knowledge and resources for advanced surveillance systems and cutting-edge encryption methods.” However, while cloud computing has benefits, it has risks as well. In fact, it is important to ensure the safety and privacy of stored data since an external party infrastructure is used.

The first risk that needs to be evaluated is a security concern of trusting an external provider with data management and storage. Things to consider are whether the provider affords the necessary level of security, and what is the support provided in the wake of uncontrolled data leaks and disasters.

According to the Cloud Security Alliance, cyber criminals have been targeting cloud services offered in a public, private or hybrid network, often exposing mission-critical applications and data that is hosted on third-party premises. Therefore, choosing the right cloud provider is paramount. The chosen third party needs to have a record of accomplishments in securing its customers’ data, and be capable of adding security measures that can offer clients greater control, which is typically lacking in a cloud infrastructure. This is especially important when considering cloud computing and outsourcing storage of sensitive data in the cloud.

Therefore, when contracting a service provider, a business must carefully evaluate it by finding information on its reputation and becoming familiar with how promptly they can address any security problem or disruptions. In addition, the cloud provider needs to be able to guarantee high standards of service as well as availability. In essence, a SMB “should be extremely diligent and cautious” when using an external provider that will handle its data or provide business operations, explained the Post. Only then, can cloud computing “help [the] business thrive and survive.”

The second risk deals with privacy of personal information. In fact, this is holding many cloud-computing companies back from prosperity and success. When it comes to the cloud, data privacy and confidentiality of the info stored are paramount. Therefore, one must ask how safe is data in the cloud? It is the fear of the unknown and uncertainty in deciding what practical cloud approach to take that keeps some SMBs from adopting this technology. To help ease concerns, any cloud provider ought to have a detailed privacy policy and the means to support it. This is relevant for companies considering cloud computing to meet their privacy efforts and ensure the cloud solution can be adapted and conducive to their business’s needs. In effect, part of the journey to cloud computing requires finding a trusted, dependable and reputable provider for the transformation.

Although cloud computing normally means relinquishing some control over sensitive data, it is possible to maximize privacy and effectiveness. The company might want to consider alternative options such as, for example, hybrid clouds, where only certain business functions are outsourced and data are stored and treated on site.

Despite the growing security and privacy concerns surrounding cloud computing, it is important to note that it does provide unparalleled access to companies’ resources to a diverse workforce distributed worldwide. Companies can give employees remote access to cloud-based applications, which are accessible from the data-center-hosted services located on servers that the providers own and maintain, without worrying about having to purchase the technology, perform on-going maintenance and costly upgrades.

SMBs willing to make the transition can gain peace of mind in entrusting their data to an external party by doing their homework and ensuring that the chosen cloud provider can protect data should the unexpected happen (e.g., disasters, equipment failure, security breaches). It is important that data backup services are provided as part of the offer so as to be able to execute backups automatically and continuously, either via the Internet or their own network. With so many provider companies available offering hosted service options, finding the right fit for a company only requires a bit of time and research.




Edited by Allison Sansone

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