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  What does Cloud Security mean for SME Businesses?  
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What does Cloud Security mean for SME Businesses? (TTID #437)

Author: Caleb Petrick   Views: 29,158 /  Created: September 2, 2013
Cloud computing has taken the spotlight in modern day computing generating a lot of hype, and why wouldn’t it boasting benefits such as cost saving, consolidation, availability and increased staff productivity. There are a lot of different solutions out there and it is easy to get lost in the hype however not all cloud solutions are created equal. It is therefore important before leaping in, to ensure that your cloud system has the right security to help you sleep at night.

Physical Security:
One of the key security benefits is that reputable cloud based servers are hosted in secure data centres with limited access offering a large range benefits which small businesses usually cannot afford. A data centre is far more physically secure with limited physical access, 24/7 surveillance, back to base alarm systems and sometimes even on site security personnel. Data centres also mitigate other environmental risks with large UPS systems and generators to provide power during outages, redundant internet connections with multiple ISP’s, fire suppression systems and heavy duty air conditioning providing optimal operating temperatures and dust filtering. When looking at physical security alone the Cloud is a hands down winner however we all know the internet is still a scary place where mysterious figures can lurk in the shadows. The very nature and one of the great advantages of cloud computing is hosting your data on the internet to be readily available from anywhere in the world and this may also inevitably be its greatest weakness if left inadequately protected.

Internet Security:
Internet Security is another topic worthy of its own article and every day the world of internet security changes as intelligent intruders play the never ending game of cat and mouse. It is highly recommended that you seek professional consulting to evaluate your individual security concerns whether you are looking at moving to a cloud solution or decide to stay in house. Nothing on the internet is 100% secure and when dealing with an in house IT solution the sad truth is that because most people do not understand Internet Security more often than not the issues are never addressed. Fortunately your cloud service provider will be aware of these security threats and any good provider will have expert security consultants maintaining and mitigating security risks. They also know what to do when a threat is detected and even while you are sleeping can be working around the clock monitoring the systems integrity.

User Security:
So now that we know what is going on with our Physical and Internet security let’s look one of the largest security concerns companies are faced with on a day to day basis – amplified by the nature of cloud computing - The end user. Yes that’s right, the person that you pay to sit down on the computer is also your businesses largest security concern. Every day they are downloading email attachments, browsing the internet, accessing USB drives with foreign content and moving secure data to an unsecure home locations. While a lot of these risks are mitigated with a good firewall, antivirus and worldwide availability there is no point in having an uneducated end user when with only a small amount of training they could become one of your greatest security assets. The user is usually the first person to detect a concern whether it be receiving a suspicious email, experiencing unusual system behaviour or witnessing an incident and by reporting and taking action straight away they can ensure any threats are minimized and dealt with before they become a concern.

Disaster Recovery:
If you have an in house solution, it is important that you look at implementing a Disaster Recovery plan adequate to your needs. At a bare minimum there should be a solid backup system involving regular backups with multiple restore points. This should have an offsite copy and be easily accessible if you ever need to perform a recovery. Your cloud service provider should also offer redundant services such as a redundant site to provide continued access even in a catastrophic event where the entire data centre goes down. Your services and disaster recovery requirements will differ for business and each cloud service provider alike. It is essential that work closely with your cloud provider to ensure you have adequate systems in place. Interestingly, a recent study highlighted 60% of companies that have lost their data will close down approximately 6 months after the disaster, and that 6% of all computers will suffer some form of data loss in any given year – some scary statistics that warrant further investigation.

Navigating cloud security can be a challenge, however a balanced approach should be considered to ensure that risks are minimised and the business is free to get the maximum return from its investments in cloud computing technology.

About the Author
Caleb Petrick is an IT Consultant working for R & G Technologies a Brisbane IT Support Company. He's passionate about all things technology and the impact these advancements are having on small business

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