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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Here Is What You Need To Know About Privacy In The Cloud

Here Is What You Need To Know About Privacy In The Cloud

Just 20 years ago businesses used dot matrix printers and laptops were a rare commodity. An email was just catching on in the mid-1990’s and clouds still fell under categories such as cumulus, stratus and cirrus. Technology has altered the way we live, work and play. 

However, every journey has its bumps along the way. With millions tapping into the Internet every hour, cyber crime has emerged costing the global economy up to $575 billion annually. As companies increasingly adopt cloud solutions, we have to ask: Is your information really safe in the cloud?

Benefits of Cloud Computing

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably a business owner who knows the value of cloud computing. Cloud platforms like Google make virtual team projectsand hiring freelancers a breeze. You can share documents, manage spreadsheets and monitor progress on any given assignment. Additionally, you can store massive amounts of information and backup all your data without worry of losing your information due to stolen hardware, natural disasters or computer crashes. 

Cloud usage is also cost effective since the investment of expensive hardware and an IT team isn’t required with the innovation of user-friendly platforms. This pay-as-you-go service model equipped with cloud business applications gives small business owners the advantage to compete with larger companies with features such as software updates and basic security monitoring. 

Finally, cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure with Cortana Intelligence can help you to analyze data to determine the effectiveness of your online presence.

How Secure is Privacy in the Cloud?

The benefits of running your business in the cloud are as varied and immense as the countless companies that implement these services. However, cyber criminals and online hackers have given cloud services a bad name. Is the cloud safe to hold all your proprietary information? Is your company at risk? 

A study released in June 2016 by Ponemon Institute, a research agency that focuses on data protection and information security, found that over half (55%) of the nearly 600 small and medium-sized businesses surveyed in their “State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses” reported being hit by a cyber attack in the past year. Furthermore, 50% said they experienced a data breach involving customer and employee information which cost these companies an average of $879,582 in damages.

Clearly small businesses are targeted by cyber criminals, but you certainly aren’t helpless in warding off an attack. Many small businesses have data breaches because they haven’t taken simple steps to fortify the weak points in their computer systems. Clutch, a research company that recommends verified technology agencies to small and mid-sized businesses, recently released their survey results on how website managers are securing their websites and how they protect Internet users’ privacy.

Their findings showed that there is a large discrepancy with how managers view their security procedures versus how safe their data really is. “80% of website managers are confident in their current level of security. However, up to 63% admit that they do not currently use common security features… Despite gaps in security, up to a quarter of website managers report that they do not plan to add security features, leaving websites exposed to vulnerabilities.”

What You Can Do to Protect Your Data

Leaving your computer system open to attack can cost you client trust along with the invaluable reputation of your company. A small investment towards securing your data in the cloud can prevent immense stress and profit loss. Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Incredibly, that truth is as relevant today as it was 300 years ago.

The level of protection you choose will depend on a number of factors, including your industry and the type of information you will need to safeguard. For example, a hospital with private health information or an ecommerce business that collects home addresses and credit card numbers should implement strong protection. A digital marketing agency may need to implement strong protection on financial transactions and invoices, but correspondence with clients about logo design would need less stringent protection. 

 

Data Encryption -

Data that is encrypted is referred to as ciphertext (while unencrypted data is called plaintext) and uses an algorithm to mix up the text or data so that it is unreadable to unauthorized users. Only authenticated users have access to the key to make the information readable again. Main cloud platform providers offer this service, but depending on the sensitivity and confidentiality of your data, you may need additional or more advanced security measures than what they provide. 

 

Data Segregation -

Everyone on your team is valuable, but not everyone needs access to the same information. Furthermore, you may want to have your basic data on a public cloud platform because it is less expensive while your most confidential data is stored on a private cloud that it can be monitored and accessed only by your company. Separating your data based on function or sensitivity decreases your chances of a security breach. 

On a related note, it’s important to ensure that data can flow freely (but securely) between environments where it's needed. While determining who will have access to sensitive data, think through the entire workflow to ensure there are no data transfer issues that could create an unsecured link in the chain of steps your employees may need to take in working with sensitive data. 

 

Security Patches - Just like its name implies, a security patch is software that a company downloads to address a security flaw when it is uncovered to keep hackers from entering the system through the flaw.

 

Multi-tiered Caching -

Data is stored and optimized by designating data to flow towards different caches to enhance speed and productivity. This segregates your data based on accessibility, volume and performance.

 

Cloud Experts -

As a small business owner, you are undoubtedly an expert at your industry, but you might not have the skills to manage, optimize or fully secure your Internet cloud. At Clarion Technologies, we have a team of experts who can address all of your cloud needs from mobile app services to IoT solutions. Call us today to discuss your cloud computing needs and concerns so that your business can run at its optimum potential.

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