19/05/2015

By Jonathan Levine, Chief Technology Officer at Intermedia


Many of you may have a grandparent or relative who fears that their money isn’t safe in the bank. Some of them may actually even keep their money under their mattresses or hidden in their freezer. Never mind all the other advances that made banks far more secure—or that a house fire was far more likely than someone robbing a bank.

Anyone who understands modern banking knows that their money is safer within institutions that are dedicated to protecting it. But, what all-too-few businesses realise is that there’s a clear analogy between keeping your money under your mattress and storing your data in an on-premises server.

In 2014, the Informational Security Breaches Survey, commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, found that 81 per cent of large organisations had a security breach, with 55 per cent attacked by an unauthorised outsider.

Unless you can build a vault in your basement, the bank can offer greater security. And unless you can build an enterprise-grade data centre, the cloud can offer far better protection (although even if you can afford your own data centre, you’re not necessarily in the clear. The security breaches that made the biggest headlines recently —such as those experienced by Sony and Target—involved attacks on private data centres).

Is your office door more secure than a modern data centre?

Many IT managers and business decision-makers think cloud storage is less secure than on-premise because they don’t have direct control. They like being able touch their servers, in other words.

But physical proximity to your data is the easiest route to theft. Just ask Green’s Accounting in the USA—last year, a burglar smashed a window with a rock and stole their server. They walked away with unencrypted client data. A similar event occurred this past year at the offices of a California dentist, who arrived at work one morning to find that her local server containing private patient information—including Social Security numbers—had been stolen. Both businesses were forced to issue formal notification letters to the state and to their customers—and received some unwanted publicity, to boot.

When you keep money under your mattress, anyone with a crowbar can steal that money. The same can be said for storing your data on-premise.

But when your data is hosted by an enterprise cloud provider—and stored in a modern data centre—you often have the additional protection of armed guards and advanced security measures, including multi-tenant platform security, intrusion protection systems, authentication policies and more.

But, what about hackers?

In the same report by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 58 per cent of large organisations suffered staff-related security breaches and 31 per cent of the worst cases were caused by inadvertent human error.

One of the biggest advantages of storing your data in the cloud is protection from remote attacks. While on-premise storage solutions use firewalls to protect your data from unauthorised remote access, they can be easily compromised by skilled hackers. But when you opt for an enterprise-grade hosted cloud provider, you get a bevy of security layers to help protect your data including real-time access monitoring, audit logs, device management and refined access controls.

Access control is particularly important. Up to 89 per cent of ex-employees keep their work passwords after employment. This creates security vulnerabilities, which can put your company at risk. Cloud servers can be controlled and managed in detail to allow all employees to have access only to the files they require. Access can be permitted or revoked with a single click.

Similar to the benefits of transferring applications and infrastructure to the cloud, cloud storage offers a lower cost of entry, ease of operation and improved agility for businesses.

With all the advantages of cloud storage solutions, it’s time for businesses to get their data out from under the mattress and into the cloud.