Security In the Cloud

There are a host of new business solutions in the cloud that solve problems faced by small businesses today.  However, there is concern that the information which is being stored there is not secure.  That could be true if you don’t do your due diligence but using cloud solutions doesn’t have to be dangerous.  In fact storing information in the cloud could be even more secure than on your desktop computer. Almost all companies that are in the business of storing information on a computer that can be accessed via the internet have data integrity and security as top priorities.  This is the case because just one major event of losing, or compromising information could ruin their reputation, and livelihood.

That being said there are some critical questions to ask a future provider such as: Is the data encrypted in transit and when it is at rest on the server? Is the date encrypted using 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)? Who can see your information? What safe guards are in place to prevent it from being copied and sent to a third party? What happens if some of your data is lost or corrupted? Will the information be easy to migrate to another provider? What happens when a staff person leaves or changes roles? Despite the risks there are also advantages of having the information saved online.  In the event that a desktop computer or laptop stops working, is lost, or stolen you wouldn’t lose your data. In addition, you can personally take some actions to make sure that your data is not compromised.  One of the most common ways that data is compromised is through spam.  The best rule of thumb for clicking on links in emails or online is that if it sounds to good to be true it probably is.  Any suspicious links should not be clicked on, and any suspicious emails should be deleted. The IRS doesn’t contact anyone via email.  So any email asking you to verify your social security number is a scam.  One of the longest running and successful scams involves a Nigerian prince who claims that he wants to give you a boat load of money if you just cooperate a little bit by providing some of your personal information.  Delete these types of messages as fast as possible. Encrypt data before sending in over the internet.  This can be done with standalone software or with a file transfer program that encrypts files, uploads them to a secure server and then the person who receives them downloads them securely. It is also important to use good passwords.  A string of a few random words that are easy for you to remember is much harder to break than a shorter string with more random characters.  You definitely don’t want to use personally significant words like family names and birthdays.  The best practice is to use different passwords for all of the different online services that one is using.  If you implement this strategy a new problem is created, there are too many passwords to remember.  The best solution to this is using a secure password vault. If the proper precautions are taken and you are proactive about it, storing information in the cloud can help you save money, be more productive, and have more secure data.  It is a great concept and where the future of business is heading!

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