There is a widespread belief that data is not safe in the cloud due to past events. Cyber attacks have occurred; pictures have been stolen from celebrities; personal information has been given to governments. There is one problem with this belief, it has no true perspective of how safe the cloud is versus having the data in your own hardware, especially if we are talking about business data.
Who’s got your back?
As time passes, more cloud providers come to life. As the world becomes more connected, it is important to ask who’s got your back.
The cloud is convenient. Let’s be very practical and look at an example. Take the following explanations of a boy to his grandmother: “simply take a picture, it will be uploaded to the cloud and you will be able to see it in your computer” or “after you take the picture, you must plug your phone to your computer, open this software, download the picture and save it somewhere you remember”. I find that the latter requires much more computer knowledge than the former. The cloud came and stayed for its convenience. You can access all your data from anywhere in the world without having to carry your computer and hard disks with you. How cool is that? Having a central place where you have your information helps you organise your stuff and be more productive (even if you are on the beach).
Okay, I get it, the cloud simplifies many problems, but how can it help my business? Your business has tons of data, in the form of digital files, papers, transactions, even the payroll is data. Have you seen what happens when two people work on the same thing without communicating? You’ll at least have duplicate files without knowing which one is the good one. In small companies, this may be a small setback. Good luck trying to solve this in a company with hundreds of employees!
Having a central repository for your company’s information is pretty much required if you want your employees to be more productive. Even more, if you follow DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) ideals, you will find the cloud to be your refuge. This is what the cloud provides. A way to have your data centralized so that you don’t concern yourself of having duplicated or outdated information.
Most reputable cloud providers take backups of the backups of your backups on redundant servers that are geographically distributed. This is simply impossible in an on premises deployment. You may have planned for possible outages, for a malfunctioning server and probably have at least two servers for your data and two for backups (man, that’s costly!), but what happens to your data in case of an earthquake and all your site gets lost? How do you stay available?
The cloud helps you get around these problems. Geographically distributing the load and having redundant servers around the world is easy for a cloud provider, not so easy for even a large enterprise. In case of a major disaster, the cloud simply redirects you to a server in a different part of the world without you even noticing.
While most people agree on how convenient and resilient the cloud is, many disagree on the cloud’s security. Some people believe that having their data on their premises is much safer than the cloud where it is publicly accessible.
Your data should not be all over the place. In employee computers and different USB drives. The more scattered your data is, the more susceptible it is for damage or theft. Nothing prevents a user from having a copy of that sensible file in their personal USB. In normal conditions it is impossible to safely control who has access to certain pieces of data. It is so much better to put everything in a central location and organise there who has permission to each piece. Don’t let your data walk out the door
On an average day, I receive at least five files via email. An email is very easy to intercept and unless it flies encrypted, easy to read. You can simply share a cloud link and your data remains secure. Even if an unwanted person has access to that link, an extra layer of security prevent him from accessing your information.
It is simple to hack a personal computer. There are many ways to do it, force a password reset, remove the hard drive and scan the files, implant a virus, trojan, worm, etc. For all the security measures carefully undertaken by a cloud provider, it is practically impossible to hack the data directly from the cloud. The thing here is that when a provider loosens its grip on security and an attack succeeds, it is big enough for everyone to know about. Let’s talk about the case of Apple and the leaked photos from celebrities. That was not a direct attack on iCloud servers, the attack was successful because the users had weak passwords. This is Apple’s fault for not having a stronger password policy, but the data itself was safe.
Is the cloud for you?
To wrap up, the cloud provides many benefits to individuals and organisations alike. It provides users with an easier way to access their data. It removes the necessity of managing servers. It centralises and guards the information. It prevents eavesdropping during transmission and it does a better job preventing hacker attacks. Are you ready to move to the cloud?