Posted by Eric O. Schueler, Senior V.P. of Information Technology
It seems like every day we hear about another company’s computer network system that has been hacked and financial data has been stolen. This leads to fear and both businesses and people become frantic about their bank accounts, credit cards and identity theft.
With all of these cyber problems, is it Safe to Store Your Financial Data in the Cloud? In this blog, I will concentrate on cloud storage and network security for businesses, but these actions can also be applied to individuals.
Is it Safe to Store Your Financial Data in the Cloud?
Experts in online security differ in their opinions on whether or not sensitive information should be stored in the cloud. Storing business information in the cloud, using internet-based service providers, is becoming extremely popular. Some think that cloud-based storage is more secure than ever, while others believe you shouldn’t store anything you want to be viewed publicly or want to lose. Instead those people believe you should store those assets in a physical location.
Before committing to cloud storage for your sensitive business financial data and documents, walk through the following steps to find a service provider that’s a good choice for your confidential assets, and that provides maximum security for your sensitive business and customer information.
Look at reviews and the reputation of the providers from security experts in IT. Only consider companies that have a great reputation and reviews.
Look at the provider’s own security and redundancy for the following:
- Multifaceted requirements for passwords including special characters, numbers, capitalized letters and length.
- Two-factor authentication which can be something simple like a user name and password or PIN or more complex such as a fingerprint.
- Servers at more than one location. This redundancy is necessary in the event disaster strikes the location and the server is damaged. If it is stored on more than one server at a different location, irrevocable loss will be unlikely.
Use Multiple Cloud-Based Providers: Consider storing your critical data on different cloud-based storage providers and make sure it is encrypted. Similar to using a provider that has servers at different locations, this step will ensure that your data is available even if someone hacks one provider or if your data gets lost.
How much data storage will you need? This can narrow down your choices and determine your cost because more gigabytes or terabytes means you’ll pay more. Realistically look at what you need, and then go from there.
Know the Encryption Process. Encryption protects your financial data by using passwords and prevents access, even from employees at the service provider. It’s also important to make sure your data will be encrypted when both transferring files and when stored in the cloud.
Review the terms and conditions of the service provider’s contract and look for more detailed information on the following:
- File and Data Deletion – If you delete data or a file, is it deleted from all servers?
- Security Breach or Financial Data Loss – How is your data protected against security breaches or losses? What are the steps taken by the provider if a breach happens?
- Subpoenas issued by the government – Is the service provider required to release your financial information to the authorities?
Speaking of passwords … It’s a good idea for you to develop a system of creating very complex passwords and changing those passwords on a regular basis. It’s also wise to never share your passwords. Individual employee access to your secure financial data should be limited, and everyone should have their own password. This also allows you to document and track the access.
Lastly, keep more than one backup of your data. Backup locally, use an online backup service and use an external hard drive to ensure the best possible scenario.
In conclusion, is it Safe to Store Your Financial Data in the Cloud? Due diligence on your part is critical in deciding whether to store your company’s financial data in the cloud and in choosing the provider that is the best for your company.
Posted by Eric O. Schueler, A+, MCP, MCSE, MCTS, CSSA, ACSP – Senior V.P. of Information Technology at HRCT. Eric has been in the business of providing IT and consulting for small and medium business for more than 15 years.
Hampton Roads Communication Technologies (HRCT) provides quality business telecommunications solutions, like Office 365, computer and IT support and managed service agreements to companies and organizations throughout the United States, Mid-Atlantic and the Hampton Roads Virginia cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News and Hampton, north into Williamsburg and south into the Outer Banks of North Carolina. HRCT keeps your company connected with 24/7 emergency service.
Call today. (757) 399-3350
Sources: forefieldkt.com, bu.edu, lifehacker.com
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Sira Anamwong (Cloud) and Stuart Miles (Data Security)