How secure is my data in the cloud?

There are a variety of IT topics that businesses need to stay current on, not the least of which is the security of their infrastructure. There’s disaster recovery, data management, and ensuring everything is backed up effectively, not to mention the reliability of the service. Many SMBs are starting to use cloud-based remote servers because they are affordable, convenient, and flexible.

But the question most people want answered is this: is it safe?

Switching from server data storage to the cloud

Not so long ago we kept our files “safe” on hard drives. Businesses used data storage on on-premises servers to keep files and important documents. The problem is that we need more and more storage space and more flexibility, and the old ways just don’t offer everything we need anymore. Cloud storage is becoming the solution to many data access and storage problems for a variety of businesses.

The advantages of the cloud

* You can access it anywhere and store lots of data and files. In fact, with the help of the cloud, you can do business on any device with something like a virtual desktop.

* It costs less, freeing up budgets for more important things like product development. Typically, you pay a monthly fee that can be for just data storage or a more nuanced IT delivery like disaster recovery.

* You don’t have to worry as much about downloading security updates as it does it all for you. This means your data is kept safe in a secure environment.

* It comes with IT support that saves you the expense of hiring someone full-time and paying them a salary. In other words, you only pay for what you need.

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The downside of the cloud

Moving data from one place to another and relying your IT operations on a remote server poses a number of security issues. How is your data encrypted? who has the keys Does your cloud provider share your data with third parties? What happens if your cloud provider suddenly stops providing?

A Cloud Service may operate in a different country and therefore be subject to different laws or restrictions (or lack thereof). Even if they operate in your country, there’s no reason why they couldn’t suddenly pick up their sticks and move somewhere else and take your data with them.

Many of these problems arise especially when companies use free services that need to find other ways to make money than charging for their provision. Using the cloud with its built-in security measures doesn’t mean you’re safe from hackers either – most of the old rules still apply, especially about having a strong password and changing it regularly.

The solution is to choose the right cloud provider that caters specifically to businesses.

How to choose the right cloud storage provider

As with most things, it’s worth looking around, but there are some general services that a good cloud storage provider should offer:

* A monthly subscription, meaning you only pay for what you get.

* Effective regular data backups and an emergency management facility.

* Local encryption and decryption of files to keep them safe in the cloud.

* Access your data and applications anywhere in the world, whether on the go, in a hotel or at a conference. Anywhere there is a Wi-Fi or Internet connection.

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There is no doubt that the advantages of cloud storage far outweigh any disadvantages. While security and file backup are issues, finding the right provider means you can rest assured that you’re getting the best service and that all the bases are covered. That means asking the right questions, doing your research, and of course, reading the User Agreement carefully.