What exactly is the Internet cloud? We all use it, our businesses depend on it, and our apps are stored on it. But here’s the thing: we’ve also heard about hackers stealing valuable information off the Internet or of the incident where a laptop is stolen and all of the information on it was breached. Since SaaS services and cloud-based applications are such an important part of both our business and social lives, here are some important facts that you should know.
First of all, the Internet and the cloud are basically the same thing. You pretty much don’t use one without using the other. For example, let’s say you tap into Google’s variety of services like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Gmail, Google+, and Hangouts. All of these tools are accessed on the Internet and stored in the cloud.
The reason this technological advancement has revolutionized the way we do business is because: a) it eliminates the cost of expensive hardware, b) small businesses don’t need a tech department when implementing a cloud platform, c) it provides mobility when the documents are accessible from any device, and d) there are limitless possibilities if you consider the millions of app choices available for both business and leisure.
However, many instances have been reported about hackers breaking into mega corporations and even into government servers to steal valuable information. Let’s face it, if Target, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Sony, and Ebay were all victims within last couple of years with all of billion dollar tech support, is your information just as vulnerable?
Actually, no. There are many precautions that you can take to ensure that your information is safe and here are a few:
Secure Your Hardware
If you lose your phone or mobile device, this could mean that the information that you access can easily be obtained. Many times we have password reminders in place or passwords that can be simply cracked leaving all of that customer information wide open. Many people also use the same password for multiple accounts because it’s quite a feat to remember one for every website we use.
To make sure your hardware is safe, educate your employees on protecting data, remove passwords that are saved, and make passwords longer with more symbols or caps in it. Also, research to see if your smartphone provider has “remote wipe” capabilities which erases data on stolen or lost devices.
Hackers are smart and are constantly finding new ways to break into user accounts. Fortunately, software and cloud platform providers hire vast teams of developers to protect against this. George Cox advises on The Spectrum to, “Update your operating system and other software frequently, if not automatically. This keeps hackers from accessing your computer through vulnerabilities in outdated programs. For extra protection, enable Microsoft product updates so that the Office Suite will be updated at the same time. Consider retiring particularly susceptible software such as old versions of Java or Flash.”
Private vs. Public vs. Hybrid
Depending on your industry and the sensitivity of your information, you can choose the type of cloud that you use. Public clouds include Google, DropBox, Microsoft Azure, or Apple’s iCloud. These are maintained by a PaaS company and provide shared clouds for general information. For sensitive data, a private cloud is more expensive since it is customized for your business and serves only your company. This obviously requires tech support beyond what a public cloud offers. Finally, hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds. You get the the accessibility and efficiency of the public cloud with the security of a private cloud.
The more roadblocks you have in your software the harder it is to crack, so encryption is a vital part of cloud protection. For even more security, there are SaaS companies that provide that extra measure of insurance to guard your data. “There are some cloud services that provide local encryption and decryption of your files in addition to storage and backup. It means that the service takes care of both encrypting your files on your own computer and storing them safely on the cloud,” explains Victoria Ivey on CIO.com.
Precautions for App Tools
We’ve all heard about the risks of tapping into public WiFi accounts and how thieves can steal credit information just by scanning a card in passing. While many businesses use app tools such as credit card payments or GPS maps, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. “Organizations should adapt an approach of risk-aware transaction execution that restricts client-side functionality based on policies that consider mobile risk factors such as device security attributes, user location, and the security of the network connection, among others,” reports Yishay Yovel on Security Intelligence.
Overall, most data and mobile apps are quite safe in the cloud because they implement trusted cloud platforms whose reputations rely on being secure. The capabilities far outweigh the risks if you apply these added precautions.