One of the biggest reasons that companies are hesitant to adopt cloud technology is a perceived security risk. Business owners have heard horror stories from others in their industries about hacks in which sensitive customer information is stolen, and they worry that similar things will happen to their companies. While there are inherent risks in any cloud system, choosing a solid system and learning how to ensure cloud security are important to ensure the safety of your data.
Factors to Consider Before Adopting Cloud Technology
As you shop around for cloud systems, consider the following factors:
Level of control and accountability within a company
The levels of control and accountability for data stored in the cloud should match the levels for information stored in a company’s personal data center. For example, employees who have access to sensitive customer information should be the only ones with this access in the cloud system.
Level of control and accountability within the cloud provider
In a similar fashion, processes and functionality that dictate who has access to customer applications and data within the cloud provider’s organization are also necessary.
A cloud system should have data loss and encryption prevention technologies that are used as needed. Consider how data are held in the storage system and how data are transferred.
Governance and compliance
Companies need to keep tabs on the information stored in a cloud system and how it is handled. Many organizations have compliance and security procedures and policies in place for corporate assets and intellectual property; these should be applied to their cloud systems as well.
Do you still have questions about how to ensure cloud security and privacy? Check out the following security tips.
Understand the location of your data
If you don’t know anything about where and how your data are stored, how can you have peace of mind about security? What happens if you terminate your cloud subscription or the cloud provider goes out of business? You need to know what happens to your data in either of these events. To comply with the most restrictive security guidelines, dedicated hardware is essential. Confirm that your data are the only pieces of information stored in that particular piece of hardware.
Back up data on a regular basis
Many people discount the importance of backing up data for cloud security. You instantly increase your data control when you conduct regular backups of your information. No matter what happens, your data will still be available in some form. Many companies can function in some capacity when they lose data, but unfortunately, they compromise the trust of their customers. For example, people don’t want to keep their money in a bank after their credit card numbers are stolen.
Look into the security measures of cloud providers
Does the cloud provider take security seriously? You can evaluate applicable security measures when you know the server your data center is using. Does it have customers with PCI or HIPAA certifications? Has it passed SOC2, SAS 70, and SSAE 16 audits? Cloud providers should have policies in place to give timely access to audit event, report, and log information applicable to a customer’s particular applications and data.
Cloud providers with extensive knowledge and experience in the world of cloud security solutions are also able to make data and applications more resilient. They often use managed antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion detection services for heightened security.
Not every cloud provider is a good fit for every company. If you aren’t sure how to determine whether a specific provider is a good fit for your business, ask the provider for references who have restrictive security measures in place. Insurance, healthcare, financial, and government organizations are most likely the best places to start. If you find a company with similar security goals, its cloud provider is more likely to be a good fit for your business. Take the time to contact references directly to learn how they use their cloud services and what steps they take to ensure security.
Test on a regular basis
The only way to make sure that a cloud system is safe is to test it extensively. Many cloud providers bring in skilled experts to test their security features. It is just as important to run scans and tests inside the cloud as outside the cloud to reduce the risk of hacks.
About the author: Timothy Wightman is CEO/President of Effective Data in Schaumburg, IL. Effective Data is a worldwide leader in enterprise application integration consulting and data integration. Connect with Effective Data on Facebook and LinkedIn.