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Just How Safe Is the Cloud? Security Tips for SMBs

With the number of cyber attacks trending up year by year, it is important to know that not only large companies are being targeted. If you are a small business like us, here are some security tips to secure your cloud environment.

 

Here are three ways that every company can migrate their security measure to the cloud with their applications.

 

By William Barker | Jan. 21, 19

 

The future of computing exists in the cloud. Businesses and everyday internet users alike are adapting to this new technology at a growing rate, whether it’s for storage or to access the growing “Everything-as-a-Service” (XaaS) market — which includes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and more.

As of this year, approximately 80% of organizations use the cloud for its data storage benefits. Globally, the public cloud market was valued at $176 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow by 17.3% year-on-year. Software-, Platforms-, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service are growing in popularity, with Microsoft’s Office 365 and Amazon’s Web Services serving as popular examples.

Regular updates, minimal overheads, and reduced storage costs are some of the technology’s key benefits, while security concerns are often cited as the format’s leading disadvantage.

For those unacquainted with the area, it’s natural to presume that the displacement of your data will lead to a looser grasp over its safety. Despite these concerns, the technology is safer than many believe. Not only can utilizing the cloud streamline your organization’s activity, it will reduce the risk of corruption or compromise at the local level exponentially.

Vigilance and adherence to data security best practices will counter the majority of common threats. That being said, there are certain risks to cloud computing that cannot be ignored. In this article, we’ll look at three ways you can stay safe and make the cloud work for your business.

Invest in Expertise

Once you’ve implemented a cloud solution, it can be tempting to leave it be. While many organizations are drawn to the technology for its hands-off nature and minimal in-house resource investment, those that wish to stay secure in the long-run must stay on top of the software they’re welcoming into their network.

This is where in-house technical support comes in. An effective IT support team should handle more than on-site troubleshooting; your technicians should be capable of managing and securing your chosen cloud solution and offering advice on the correct provider to partner with.

For those organizations too small for a dedicated team, it’s important to keep your software and platforms updated at the very least. These updates help protect you from the latest vulnerabilities.

For anyone concerned with corporate cybersecurity, keeping an eye on the news is essential. Learn from the mistakes of other organizations and prepare for any existing threats. Whether this means investment in extra precautions or changing providers altogether, you will benefit from being wary.

Password Security

Your cloud security is only as strong as the passwords protecting it. Many organizations, small businesses, and individuals are at risk from cyber-attacks and data breaches as a result of weak passwords. Often this can be fixed simply by being disciplined about your password usage and implementing obligatory company-wide standards.

When it comes to passwords, variation is as important as strength. If your security keys are all the same and one account is compromised, your entire system becomes vulnerable along with the sensitive data stored therein. Popular password managers like LastPass or Dashlane can be useful here. These services encrypt and store your passwords behind two-factor authentication, as well as automatically inputting them when necessary.

Encryption

Encryption is the baseline technology at the heart of data security. Though it is hardly a new technology, encrypted data was historically stored on servers which resided on premises over which the company had direct control. For this reason — and with so many different types of encryption available — many small to mid-size businesses are finding this approach inviting but daunting.

With a growing number of popular business applications hosted in the cloud, you’ll need to find a solution which works for you. Many organizations depend on contract language to protect their assets, or select a cloud provider that will allow them to encrypt their data before it is sent for storage or processing. Other organizations partner with a SaaS provider that will manage the encryption and decryption of corporate data for them.

Whichever your chosen method of encrypting your cloud data, it’s wise to double your network security with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This software will encrypt your organization’s activity at the network level, preventing the interception or exploitation of data in transit. The type of provider you choose will likely depend on the size of your business, as smaller companies may not see the full return on investment from large corporate services. It’s worth taking time with this decision, as certain providers have been known to log or even sell user data. Be sure to use a VPN that is well-received in the industry and gets good reviews.

Conclusion

Integrating any new technology will inevitably come with security risks, and cloud technology is no different. With some simple software, vigilance, and in-house expertise, it’s simple to eliminate the most pressing dangers. Stay familiar with the security landscape, choose your provider wisely, and invest in security as a priority.

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