Thanks to advances in cloud technology, small businesses can now get data storage and software solutions that are cheaper than ever before. In hopes of saving their business money, business owners are increasingly turning to the cloud for data storage solutions because it doesn’t require the staffing and upkeep of onsite servers. But is cloud storage safe?
Threats to your business’s data security can cause irreparable harm to your operation, so safety is worth considering. Much of your data security strategy involves keeping your business network safe, being vigilant, disposing of data securely, and understanding your cloud provider’s security policies and what measures they have put in place to protect you. Thankfully, protecting your company’s information in the cloud is relatively easy, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Protect Your Network from Malware
Malicious software, like Trojans, viruses, ransomware, and worms, is known as malware, and can wreak havoc on the data stored in your system. Worse, it can infect your network devices without you even being aware of it.
For your business, security in the cloud starts with a comprehensive anti-malware solution. This solution should include sophisticated software that protects your network devices and PCs from bad actors, including malware threats, phishing scams, social engineering attacks, identity theft, and dangerous websites, without compromising performance. In addition to malware protection, you need spam filters for your email inbox to protect against scammers’ phishing emails, and a firewall to keep hackers off your network.
Talk to Your Cloud-Based Provider about Security
When you use cloud-based storage, your cloud-based provider already has measures in place for your security. Ideally, you should get the answers to your security questions before you choose a vendor, but you can always switch to a new provider if you find your current one’s security measures are lacking. Here are some questions you should ask yourself about your provider to see if their security measures are to par.
- How is access to the storage infrastructure, including servers, controlled?
- What software solutions are used to deter phishing, malware, and hackers?
- Does the provider carry insurance in case of damage to the hosting facility or theft of equipment or data?
- What is the plan to handle catastrophic events, such as floods, fire, earthquakes, or extreme weather?
- What kind of security and access-related reports can you expect regarding physical access logs and data access logs, and how often can you expect them?
- How many failsafe networking links does the provider have onsite?
The answers to these questions should help you get a grip on the security measures your provider has in place.
Keep Personal Devices Off Your Network
Many small businesses (and not-so-small businesses) try to cut technology costs by implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, but that’s not a great idea from a security standpoint. Employees’ personal devices may compromise the safety of your network and your data, because, to put it bluntly, you don’t know where they’ve been. You have no way of knowing if employees are using strong security software or the best internet security practices to protect their devices. It’s in your best interest to provide your employees with the device you want them to use for work, and if you offer Wi-Fi to your employees, make sure it’s on a segregated guest network.
Dispose of Data Safely
You won’t need all of your data forever, so when it’s time to dispose of it, do it securely. Make sure that reused and retired devices have their data removed properly with an IT disposal tool that overwrites data several times to completely destroy it. If you contract an IT disposal company, make sure they’re using such tools to remove data safely from your devices.
You should also design and implement a sound data destruction policy that lays out clear protocols for dealing with the disposal of each type of device you’re likely to need to get rid of. Phones, tablets, computers, laptops, flash drives, and external hard drives all require different data disposal processes before they can be discarded or redistributed.
Be Vigilant Against Internal Threats
Disgruntled employees or former employees can pose a threat to your data security, and you should absolutely take steps to ensure that they can’t do damage on their way out the door, or return to do damage later. Not all internal threats to your data will come from angry individuals wanting revenge. In fact, human error is the biggest threat to any network’s security, but you can mitigate it by giving regular training in network and data security to your employees. One data training session isn’t enough– you have to provide consistent training so employees’ knowledge stays fresh.
Cloud solutions can be the answer to your company’s data storage prayers, but you still need to be aware of your company’s security. Secure cloud storage comes as a result of real policies that your business can put into action today to both protect your data and save your company money.