Storing Data in the Cloud? Here’s what you need to know!

Cloud-based file storage and sharing platforms such as DropBox, Box, Google Drive, and OneDrive are excellent solutions to improve the availability and security of your organization’s data. While these are great benefits, it’s also important to understand the risk of utilizing a cloud-based platform in order to best manage that risk.

Unauthorized Access

Data stored in the public cloud is naturally vulnerable to remote malicious attacks. While many cloud-based platforms are large targets for hackers, most often these vulnerabilities materialize in the form of poorly managed accounts or non-enforced password policies.

How Can You Protect Against Unauthorized Access?

Enforcing a multi-factor authentication (MFA) policy is a quick and easy way to protect against unauthorized access where a users password may have been compromised. Many cloud-based platforms include features for system administrators to easily setup multi-factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication is an added layer of security in addition to a password. Multi-factor authentication forces a user to confirm their identity prior to accessing the system. Typically, this is accomplished by the system sending an automated message or PIN number to the user’s mobile phone after the correct password is successfully inputted.

Internet Connectivity

Cloud-based platforms are accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you have an active connection to the internet. While this is one of the primary benefits, it also poses a challenge: The need to maintain a fast and stable internet connection. If an internet outage occurs, you may not have any way to access your critical data.

How Can You Protect Against Internet Connectivity Issues?

The best way to ensure you’re always connected is to use two internet connections, ideally from two separate internet service providers (ISP) like Comcast and Verizon. The faster connection would serve as the primary link, and the slower connection would serve as the failover or backup link.

This type of configuration can be set up in several ways dependant on the availability of internet service in your area. These range in order of stability from dedicated fiber, business internet, and cellular (4G/LTE/5G).

Service Issues

Error 500! If you’ve ever logged into a cloud-based platform and seen a similar message, it typically means that there is a significant service issue, most likely related to the cloud platform. While it’s unlikely that an entire service is offline for an extended period of time, it can and does happen.

How Can You Protect Against Service Issues?

Unfortunately, there is no absolute method to protect against service outages. Service issues can range from a temporary issue with a specific feature to a complete service outage affecting all customers around the world.

Most cloud-based platforms offer status and support portals to communication and provide customers with insight into the scope, severity, restoration estimates regarding service issues.

Data Loss

While far less likely in a cloud-based solution, data loss is still a potential risk. Cloud providers can still experience the effects of natural disasters or critical systems failures which could result in long-term service issues and potential data loss.

How Can You Protect Against Data Loss?

While you may not be anywhere near earthquakes or an erupting volcano, it’s possible the datacenter where the cloud-based platform hosts your data might be. Even with cloud-based solutions, disaster recovery planning is critically important. In most cases, backups are one of the best ways to reduce the risk of data loss. Services like Backupify, Druva, and Spanning serve as cloud-to-cloud backup solutions to ensure even in the rarest instance, your data is backed up.

While no platform or method to store data is perfect, utilizing a cloud-based storage solution is a great option to reduce the risk of losing your most critical data.  It’s important to keep in mind that migrating to a cloud solution requires the proper configuration of IT controls and risk management. Features, security settings, and compliance requirements are all key aspects that should be considered when utilizing a cloud-based platform.

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