Security

Is your data safe in the cloud?


Cape Town, 16 Apr 2018
Read time 5min 00sec

This is probably one of the most common questions executives ask before considering moving to the cloud. And it's a very valid concern.

Many business owners experience this uncertainty because they assume that data stored on systems they don't own or control is less secure. But control and security don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. In fact, how your data is accessed is actually more important than the physical location where it is stored. This is true for both on-premises and cloud systems.

Let's face it, anything that can possibly be accessed from outside, whether it's in the cloud or on-premises, has equal chances of being attacked.

So, is cloud more secure? Well, nearly all data stored in the cloud is encrypted, which means that users need a key to decrypt the information.

Similarly, reputable cloud service providers will provision data across multiple data centres around the world. This ensures your data is safeguarded even if a disaster or system failure occurs in one place because it's also stored somewhere else. Most cloud storage providers will have a minimum of three copies of your data spread across highly available and redundant sites.

When looking at the issue of control, advanced technological security features such as two-factor authentication, certificate-based authentication, as well as various other standard authentication and authorisation mechanisms, make it rather tough for someone else to access your data.

And let's not forget that if there isn't an actual data centre that can be broken into, you remove the threat of a sinister character physically stealing your sensitive corporate data.

But if you still need some convincing, we've put together a few security tips to consider before moving your data to the cloud.

#1 Align your move to the cloud with your business strategy: Over the years, we've worked with many clients that don't have a business strategy or have a huge disconnect between business and IT. This is recipe for disaster. If your IT department is trying to push your technology strategy from the bottom up they're likely to hit a few brick walls. It makes more sense to align your technology needs with business functions, that way you'll be taking a top down approach, which will make it easier to secure buy-in from business.

Tip 2: Research your prospective cloud provider's Operational Security Framework: As is the case when making any big decision, it's crucial to do your due diligence. When moving to the cloud, this means ensuring that your chosen cloud partner's operational activities follow security guidelines and recognised security standards such as Network Information Security & Technology (NIST). In addition to this, be sure that your service provider complies with the regulations and compliance standards specific to your industry.

Tip 3: Take a look at their track record: In line with the point above, it's important to look at some of the work your cloud provider has done in the past. Have they done this kind of thing before? Have they done it for a business of your size? Or in your industry? Or for an organisation with similar requirements? It's vital to assess the different providers in terms of maturity and experience of operating cloud services at scale. You can do so by reviewing Audit reports and Service Availability Level details.

Tip 4: Do they offer any "options"? If you take a look at the recent rise in cyber-crime activity, it's safe to say that hackers are getting smarter. When trying to secure your data in the cloud, you need to choose a partner that offers more than the rest. Take Office 365's service encryption, for example. Office 365 offers an additional layer of encryption at the application level for data from Exchange Online, Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. Called Customer Key, not only does this additional layer of protection safeguard your business' critical information against malicious attacks, it also makes it easier for you to meet compliance obligations because you're in control of the encryption keys Office 365 uses to decrypt data. In line with this, any good cloud service provider will give you options when it comes to securing your data, and offer addition layers of security. Office 365 offers customer-managed encryption capabilities, allowing you to have greater control over the protection of your sensitive data. For example, by opting to activate the two-step verification feature on your OneDrive account or taking the time to choose a strong password, you're adding another hurdle that sinister characters need to overcome before they can access your information.

In summary, if you're unsure why you're moving to the cloud in the first place, it's probably a good idea to consult with experts who do this for a living. Cloud providers have to be compliant and secure before they can move any data into the cloud and GDPR is making this more of a reality. Cloud storage companies live and die by their reputations. It's in their best interests to provide the most secure and reliable service possible. So, is your data safe in the cloud? With the right partner, it probably will be.

Need some help on your cloud journey? We've helped many of our local and international clients make their cloud move hassle free. To find out more, get in touch via (021) 914 2348 or e-mail sales@nbconsult.co.za

NBConsult

Established in 2007, NBConsult is a South African consulting company. This technology partner aims to help customers achieve their true potential and find the right tools and solutions to enable their businesses. NBConsult specialises in everything from managed infrastructure services and cloud, to digital workspace support and outsourced IT services.

With extensive experience implementing cloud-based products in the US, England, Germany, India, Hong Kong and Australia, among others, the company has all the knowledge and skills required to handle the complexities associated with moving workloads to the cloud.

While NBConsult has already worked with various successful South African brands, the company is looking to expand its local footprint. Find more information about how NBConsult can help you take charge of your IT today by visiting: www.nbconsult.co/

Editorial contacts
NBConsult(+27) 21 914 2348ian@nbconsult.co.za
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