Is My Business’ Data Safe in the Cloud?

One question business owners often ask when considering whether to move data from their in-house server to a cloud service provider is whether their data will remain secure.

Is My Business’ Data Safe in the Cloud?

This may be a question you have as well. Are other businesses and organizations able to see your data? Is an in-house data center more secure than the cloud? And are the benefits of using a cloud service worth the potential security risks?

Yes, your data is secure in the cloud

First, you should know that cloud service providers go to great lengths to secure their client’s data. They keep each client’s data segmented from each other following rigorous industry best practices and, in many cases, regulatory standards. Your data will be stored on servers located in warehouses, access to which is limited. Your data is also encrypted, making it harder for anyone to access it. It will appear as gibberish without the encryption key, which most providers retain. However, some cloud providers do allow clients to keep the encryption keys for themselves. Further, you can encrypt your own data before uploading it to the cloud to keep it even more secure.

You can rest assured that even if you choose the same cloud services provider as your closest competitor, they won’t see your data, and you won’t see theirs. Cloud providers would quickly lose client trust and credibility if they could not provide data privacy to their clients. Many top providers regularly document the security work they perform and share further recommendations clients can use to secure their IT assets.

The cloud’s cybersecurity risks

The only time your data may be exposed to others is when a data breach occurs. Cloud service providers work tirelessly to secure their servers, given that data breaches hurt their reputation, cost them clients, and expose them to potential litigation and regulatory action. Cloud providers make sure their anti-virus and anti-malware applications are up-to-date, continuously test their network for vulnerabilities, and use AI tools to help them detect anomalous activity. Many also hire third-party security companies to test their defences, allowing them an objective, critical look at their security measures.

Many cloud providers with cybersecurity experience also offer managed security services (MSS). Those who do, dedicate staff to monitor threat actors and trends, investigate client networks, and help companies design and implement comprehensive security solutions. They leverage this expertise and the resources they use, providing MSS to protect the client data they host, keeping your data very secure.

However, breaches can still occur, a risk you incur whether you store data on-site or in the cloud. Cybercriminals are working around the clock to steal and ransom information from companies, government organizations, and nonprofits and have been quite successful overall. In-house data centers can provide businesses with more control over the security measures implemented and cyber incident responses. But it’s then up to the company to ensure the strongest measures are put in place, which they may not be able to do.

However, moving to a cloud service provider can help minimize cybersecurity and data loss risks. You may not have enough staff with the necessary expertise or time to safeguard your network around the clock. Storing data on-site may increase your insider threat risk, as a disgruntled employee may have direct access to your server. A natural or man-made disaster that engulfs your headquarters can destroy or compromise your in-house server. But when your data is hosted in the cloud, you could conceivably resume operations as soon as your account for your employees. Cloud providers back up client data on servers at multiple data centers. This way, if one server facility suffers an outage, the provider can ensure your data is safe and accessible.

Other benefits of the cloud

Cloud data storage is also scalable and cost-effective. If you’re reliant on a data center, then as your business grows, you’ll need to invest in additional hardware, software, and potentially personnel over time. When you store your data in the cloud, you pay a fixed rate for a certain amount of storage. When you are near that storage limit, you can simply log into your account and pay for the additional storage you need, which will be added to your monthly bill. And in lean times, when you don’t need as much from your cloud provider, you can easily log in and pay for less. However, once you’ve scaled up your data center, you’re stuck with all those servers, even if you no longer need them.

Additionally, when you retire your in-house data center, you’ll drastically reduce your energy consumption and related costs. You’ll be able to free up IT staff time to engage in work that drives revenue. They’ll no longer be responsible for deploying, installing, maintaining, and upgrading the hardware and software you need. Those responsibilities will now fall to the cloud provider. And whereas before, your IT staff, dealing with competing priorities, may not have been able to handle necessary upgrades in a timely fashion, the provider will automatically update your software (as per the agreement you signed), as well as repair and replace aging servers.

What to look for in a cloud provider

Are you more comfortable with the idea of moving to the cloud but not sure how to get started? There are many, many cloud providers out there, and choosing between them can be daunting. When sorting through your options, you’ll want to ask about their data backup practices and business continuity plans, as well as their cybersecurity track record. Inquire about how they’ve handled attempts as well as successful intrusions. Also, learn how they handle client data access internally and how they manage insider threat risk. If your industry has regulatory mandates, find out if your prospective cloud provider has experience working within your industry’s guidelines. And review any additional services, such as MSS, they may offer that can help keep your data secure.

If you’re looking to move to the cloud, CTECH Consulting Group can help. With more than two decades of providing IT services to Calgary and Southern Alberta businesses, we can help you identify the right cloud solution for your business. We’ll help you build a plan to move your data and systems to the cloud that’s aligned with your business needs, then work with your team to make the transition as seamless and painless as possible. Take the first step towards securing your data more effectively and cutting costs by contacting us today.