Cloud computing offers undeniable benefits for companies wishing to enhance productivity, reduce operating costs, and free themselves from the hassles of day-to-day IT management. But all too often does it raise questions about security and privacy: “Will I be able to access my data when I need it?”, “Can I protect my vital company data from hackers or unauthorized users?”, “How can I switch from my current cloud provider?” These are some of the important questions that need to be answered before you make a move to the cloud.
In order for a company to make sense of the issues that surround cloud security, the company must first understand what needs to be protected and why. The following sections deal with these questions in detail.
Assign value to your assets
The first thing you should do is identify the critical assets that need be hosted in the cloud. These could be applications such as CRM software, accounting, customer information, operating systems, or hosted servers. When you assign a value to your assets, it will be easier to decide what level of security you may need.
Assess your liabilities
You must realize that when your system is breached and you lose sensitive customer data, it’s not the cloud provider that’s on the hook. This is why it’s very important that you choose your cloud service provider carefully.
In many industries -- healthcare and financial being great examples -- government and industry regulations have established security level standards on how electronic data must be handled. In some cases, you may not even be allowed to use cloud services, or there may be major restrictions, like not being able to store data in another country.
Determine risk tolerance
How much are you willing to take a risk? This decision is subjective, and you will need some time to think it through. Of course, your decision will depend on what your liabilities are, what industry your business operates in, and what assets you need to protect.
Your cloud service provider must implement a security authentication procedure to ensure all users accessing your data are authorized to do so. This procedure includes passwords, unique user names, and digital certificates. There also needs to be security measures in place to detect unauthorized users from entering the system, such as two-factor authentication and authorization features.
Monitor and track user activity
This is an essential measure to protect your data. You need to know who is accessing your system, when they accessed it, and from what device. It’s important that you choose a cloud provider that offers all these tracking tools.
Make a smooth exit if necessary
Even with the best intentions of both parties, there’s always a possibility that things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. In the event that you need to look for and hire a new cloud provider, it is imperative that you can easily and quickly transfer your data from your current provider. Ask the cloud provider to give you their procedures on how the transition would happen, how long it would take, and what fees would be incurred. And be sure to ask exactly what format that data will be in so you can easily migrate your data to your new cloud provider.