For security and convenience, many businesses are making the switch from downloadable software to applications that are hosted in the cloud. Some common examples of cloud-based applications are email providers such as Gmail and Outlook or Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM) such as Salesforce and Hubspot. These tools are convenient, but are they as secure as people are led to believe?
Before we dig into this topic, let’s first examine the history of cloud computing and how this technology works.
In the past, companies bought expensive servers and software to run critical programs for their business. Unfortunately, these companies did not have the option to purchase a smaller server better suited to their business, which resulted in unused storage and, ultimately, a loss of money. Companies such as Amazon and Microsoft began to realize that they could sell access to these left-over resources to other businesses to make more efficient use of their assets.
Today, cloud technology has evolved to support e-commerce, email, medical practices, and many other types of software in multiple industries across the globe. Companies often rely on the cloud for many of their business needs such as communications vendor portals and managing their customer databases. In today’s market, many companies would have a hard time doing business without this easy-to-use technology.
Taking advantage of cloud technology to make your businesses’ day-to-day operations easier is a no-brainer for many entrepreneurs. But like everything in life, there are pros and cons that you need to take into consideration.
Things to Consider
Because the cloud is always accessible, cyber criminals and hackers use open access to continuously poke and probe your company’s cloud software for weaknesses. Like a thief who has stolen a safe, your company’s digital infrastructure can be breached with enough effort if you do not have the proper security measures in place.
Once your website or cloud-based software is breached, these attackers can see sensitive company and client information like names, addresses, credit card information and even passwords stored on your computer. This is an unfortunate reality for anything connected to the internet, like your website.
Falling victim to an attack is not as uncommon as you may think. Phishing emails are the most predominant method that attackers use to target businesses and their employees. By crafting a well-written email with an attachment or link to click, attackers can quickly compromise the computer system of a busy business owner or employee.
According to research presented by Phish Labs (a local technology company that specializes in phishing), 20% of phishing email simulations were opened by the recipient. These are worrisome statistics, but not just for small business owners. Phishing emails have become so effective that entities like Facebook, Google, major banks and even hospitals fall victim to these data breaches.
Eliminating the need for backups, ensuring that your software is always reachable, and creating cost efficiencies are all great reasons to migrate tasks to the cloud. However, business owners need to take additional security measures to ensure that their data is safe.
How Do I Secure
You may be asking yourself: “How do I do this?”
One of the first steps you can take to protect your organization’s cloud software is to ensure that your employees are not sharing account information. Sharing account information increases the risk of stolen credentials.
If possible, enable two-factor authentication to prevent your employees from sharing accounts. This two-factor authentication is typically a free feature and shouldn’t be hard to implement for business owners. This security step ensures that hackers will need access to your phone, email account, or token-generating software to gain access to your cloud data, even if your passwords have been compromised.
Finally, research your cloud vendors to make sure they are reputable. Confirm that they are taking actionable steps to protect your information. There are countless cloud vendors to choose from, and many do not make it a priority to protect your business’s sensitive information. Business owners should at a minimum, review the cloud vendor’s adherence to industry best practices, data security certifications, service reliability, and performance. If you are ever in doubt, ask your IT management company, other business owners, or conduct an online search to learn more about their reputation and practices.
Savvy business owners are taking precautions a step further by hiring cyber security firms to run in-depth assessments of their company’s security. This is the best way to ensure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your company, your clients, and, ultimately your ability to generate income. Cloud computing can be a game-changer for your business, but in this age of information and technology, it’s crucial that you take every precaution possible to solidify your company’s security.