Keeping Your Data Safe in the Cloud: 6 Things to Consider
When moving data to the cloud, you should ensure the service provider offers air tight security. / Credit: Cloud Security image via Shutterstock

Small business owners often are hesitant to use online data storage due to the inherent security risks — they fear that storing their sensitive data in the cloud, where they aren't directly overseeing it, is putting their documents at risk.

But security has become so sophisticated that many experts agree that online storage is more secure than the solutions small business owners can provide on their own.

"When you're working with a reputable vendor, online storage and backup solutions are extremely safe," said Pete Lamson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for online data storage provider Carbonite. "In many cases, having data encrypted in an off-site data center is safer than keeping it unencrypted in your office's server closet."

In addition, the security online data storage provides is one of the main benefits of having files stored in the cloud, said William Speirs, CEO of infrastructure intelligence provider Metrink."We don't have to worry about
security as much because documents reside in the cloud instead of on a
laptop that can be stolen," Speirs said.

Gytis Barzdukas, senior director of product management for Mozy by EMC, saidthe key to keeping documents and data properly protected is finding an online data storage service that places an emphasis on security features. He said there's a range of cloud services on the market and the security levels that you find when you use them can vary dramatically from "cloud locker" services, which might not offer any kind of security, to services that come with the very highest levels of security.

To make sure your company's data is secure in the cloud, make sure to ask these questions when choosing an online data storage provider:

  • Encryption: Barzdukas said the most important thing to consider when you want to protect your data online is encryption. "If your data is encrypted with a key that only you know, only you can read it," he said. "You should always choose a cloud service that allows you to choose your own encryption key and secures your data with AES or Blowfish encryption."
  • Data storage equipment condition: Rene Oldenbeuving, general manager of cloud business at Acronis, said that to protect yourself from data loss, you should ensure your data is properly backed up, and that the equipment is in good condition. Does the company have emergency backup power? Is there air conditioning? Does the building look safe? 

 

[For a side-by-side comparison of the best online data storage, visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]

  • Data storage location: Barzdukas said small business owners should know exactly where their data is being stored. "A cloud service could be anywhere in the world, and different regions have different laws about who might be able to access your information," he said.
  • Data accessibility: For data to be usable, Oldenbeuving said it must be both correct and available. He said you can ensure it is available by accessing it periodically. "If you cannot access it, then it is not safe," Oldenbeuving said. "Therefore, you need to ask your service provider for uptime statistics and whether there are any guarantees or [service-level agreements] for safety."
  • Facility security: A key to keeping online data safe is ensuring that where it is being stored is properly protected, Barzdukas said. "Make sure the provider mans its data centers 24/7 365 [days a year] and has appropriate levels of physical security," he said. 
  • Disaster preparedness: Barzdukas said small business owners also want to ensure that the facility where there online data is being stored is prepared for any type of disaster that may hit. "Fire, floods or earthquakes are just as likely to happen in the cloud data center as they are in your office, so make sure that the provider has appropriate detection and suppression solutions in place," he said.

While part of the responsibility for keeping files secure lies with the online data storage provider, another part falls on the business and its employees, Lamson said.

"The No. 1 way to ensure the safety of your data is choosing to work with a reputable vendor," he told Business News Daily. "Then, it's up to the business owner and employees to take steps, like choosing unique and hard-to-guess passwords, avoiding malware and viruses, and taking steps to secure corporate devices like computers, servers and smartphones."

Originally published on Business News Daily