In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing (hosting) and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of your computer's hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the internet. With cloud computing, users can access files and use applications from any device that can access the internet.
Cloud computing comes with many benefits to help your small business:
Easily Accessible Software Solutions- Thanks to the cloud, businesses can have access to some of the most powerful software, infrastructure, and platforms in the world, regardless of their location, without having to buy a single server.
Scaling and Flexibility- Cloud computing can scale everything from bandwidth to processing power, ensuring that you can have the resources needed to support growth.
Automation and Improved Output- Automating digital tasks eliminates redundant data entry time, reduces errors, and saves time.
Improved Collaboration and Remote Work- Using cloud computing, your employees can access, edit, and share documents from anywhere using computers and mobile devices.
Big Data and Analytics- As you process growing amounts of data from multiple internal and external sources, cloud computing enables quick analysis thanks to powerful data processing capabilities.
Backup and Disaster Recovery- Cloud computing makes backups and disaster recovery easy because service providers have systems that guard against hardware failure. Cloud service providers perform routine backups, so you have a good chance of surviving cyber-attacks.
Better security and automatic updates- Cloud computing provides better protection because your service providers manage all associated maintenance and security tasks on their end. This means you will always have the latest version of your software in place.
How Small Businesses Use Cloud Computing to Improve Security?
Almost every business has an abundance of sensitive data. There's no question that the public cloud service providers that you're familiar with, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, offer a more secure environment than you could ever hope to with your on-premise servers.
However, what they can't protect you from is when that data leaves the cloud to interact with other systems. Security breaches are rarely caused by inadequate cloud data protection. They're caused by humans. Stolen login credentials, disgruntled employees, accidental deletions, insecure Wi-Fi connections, and other employee mishaps put your data at risk.
Below are the six best ways you can improve cloud security:
Deploy Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)- Also known as two-factor authentication, to ensure that only authorized personnel can log in to your cloud apps and access that sensitive data. MFA is one of the cheapest but most effective ways of keeping would-be hackers from accessing your cloud applications. Most IT security experts will tell you that it's negligent if you DON'T implement MFA.
Manage User Access- Setting proper levels of authorization ensures that each employee can only view or use the applications or data necessary for him or her to do their job. Using a managed service provider can completely take the burden of user access and management off your plate.
Monitor, log, and analyze user activities with automated solutions to detect intruders- Real-time monitoring and analysis of user activities can help you spot irregularities that deviate from standard usage patterns. These abnormal activities could indicate a breach in your system, so catching them early can catch hackers in their tracks and allow you time to fix security issues before they cause mayhem.
Create a comprehensive offboarding process to protect against departing employees- When employees leave your company, make sure they can no longer access your systems, data, customer information, and intellectual properties. Since each employee would likely have access to many different cloud applications and platforms, you need to ensure that all access rights for each departing employee are revoked. If you can't manage this internally, you should consider outsourcing this task to an MSP who can properly set up, implement, and maintain this process for you.
Regularly provide anti-phishing training for employees- More times than not, employee mishaps are the reason your cloud data is at risk. Hackers can gain access to secure information by stealing employees' login credentials through techniques such as phishing, spoofing websites, and social media spying. Offering ongoing training is the best way to prevent employees from falling victims to these scams and compromising your company's sensitive data.
Consider cloud to cloud backup solutions- Most cloud providers, including Microsoft, do store deleted data for a short period, including your Office 365 data. Be sure to check with your cloud provider to determine what this time frame is, and if there are fees to restore this data (when possible to retrieve it). Businesses that must abide by strict regulations or are concerned with being held liable due to missing or corrupted data are turning to cloud to cloud back up solutions.
In general, cloud computing is a much more cost-effective option, and it's more secure if you take the right precautions. Following industry best practices in selecting, installing, provisioning, and managing cloud services can help you get the most out of cloud computing while maintaining a high level of security to protect your sensitive data.
Data-Tech can help you design a comprehensive cloud computing strategy that ties all the pieces together, and even provide ongoing management to make sure you're protected. Give us a call if you would like more information on how we can help!
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