Many new business owners aren’t quite sure how modern cloud-based software options compare to the older models of local software options when it comes to security.
In older software programs, you can physically see exactly where your data is stored: on your local machine. In that model, it seemed that you just had to make sure that your physical computers stayed safe and you could be guaranteed that your data would stay right there.
In comparison, cloud-based software’s internet connections seem to make your data susceptible to every hacker in the world who can access your data from any remote location globally.
However, in most cases, data stored on cloud-based software is actually much safer than data stored in older software models.
Among other reasons, this is because the latest cloud-based programs are run by companies that have tons of resources to dedicate to security, and because local networks are still vulnerable to the same kind of internet threats that cloud-based programs are.
Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to cloud-based software security.
Cloud Computing Security 101
Technically, “cloud computing” only requires two things: a data server (a computer) and an internet connection. You can create a private cloud in your home or office, for example, to store shared data for everyone who is connected to your wireless internet network to access.
However, when most people use the term “cloud-based software” these days, they’re referring to the services that are hosted completely off-site.
When you use cloud-based software, your data is sent from the device in front of you to the on-site router, usually wirelessly, and then the router sends the info via cable to your local internet service provider. The data then sends it along to the off-site destination server that’s hosted by the company that owns your software.
Your info is stored there until you want to retrieve it again, at which point it travels back to your local device via a similar route on the internet.
It’s easy to assume that sending your data across the country, region or world would put it at more risk, but that’s not actually true. Your data is still very much susceptible to hackers as long as your local computers are connected to the internet and your employees are using the internet regularly.
Most employers know that they need to secure their local network with an encrypted password. But as an increasing number of devices such as smart speakers, smart doorbells, and smart security systems connect to the internet via local wireless networks, hackers can find new ways to exploit your personal information. And if your employees click suspicious links or fall prey to phishing scams in their email, their computers could become infected with malware that can give hackers access to your network too.
Digital Security Needs for Small Businesses
It may seem like hackers mostly target big companies because they have so much more valuable personal data than small businesses. However, those cases just tend to make the headlines more often. In fact, small businesses may make even more appealing targets for hackers, because hackers know they don’t have the same level of resources to devote to security.
According to a 2015 statement by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “for every high-profile breach, there are many more threats to confidential data held by local businesses.”
Unfortunately, as this Denver Post article explains, these kinds of hacks can be especially harmful for smaller businesses. In fact, 60% of businesses that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within six months.
Advantages of Modern Cloud-Based Software over Locally Installed Software
So, we’ve established that small businesses can be the targets of cyber criminals, and that storing data on a local server isn’t risk-free. But there are other unique security advantages to using cloud-software that you definitely need to consider.
Easier hardware maintenance. When you store software locally on-site at your business, you must have someone technical on hand to make sure hardware is updated and is working properly. You’ll also have to make sure that your machines can handle an increasing amount of data as your business grows over time. In comparison, cloud-based software takes all of the responsibility for maintaining hardware, increasing storage, and updating software completely off of your hands.
Redundancy. Most modern software programs are hosted with companies like Amazon Web Services, which store your data in multiple places instead of just one. Because their networks of servers are distributed strategically throughout the world, even major disasters or power outages won’t affect your ability to access data.
Digital security. Almost all modern cloud-based software encrypts data both “in motion” and “at rest.” They use an https connection to make sure that no one can access data while it’s traveling across the internet. Cloud-based software programs also use industry best practices for security and authentication protocols to make sure no one gets unauthorized access to your files. When you use cloud-based software, you’re taking advantage of professionals who are fully dedicated to the task of keeping data safe from the latest threats — and that’s a resource that small businesses simply don’t have.
Physical security. When most people think about protecting their data, they think of digital security. However, your data is also super vulnerable to physical theft and damage. In some cases, all it would take to compromise your company’s most valuable data is for one of your employee’s laptops or personal electronic devices to be stolen. And unless you have the resources to employ top-of-the line security cameras and a live security staff, your data is likely more vulnerable to physical threats when it’s stored on-site at your business than it is with a professional software company that’s completely dedicated to keeping your data safe and secure.
A Reality Check
This is your business. It’s your income — how you support yourself and your family. And for most people, it represents years of work and has even become part of your identity. It makes sense for business owners to be wary of sending their information around the world on the internet, especially when data breach news is broadcast every day.
However, the fact is that you’re probably already sending your most personal information over the internet regularly and with very little security risk.
Do you use a banking app for your personal finances? Or, do you log on to your banking website, to pay bills or transfer money among your accounts? If so, some of your most sensitive data is already traveling over the internet regularly.
You’re probably already sending your most personal information over the internet regularly and with very little security risk.
With this in mind, we invite you to consider using modern cloud-based software for your local business. Besides the enhanced security, cloud-based software has many other powerful features. For example, it can integrate with other specialized cloud-based programs that come together to create a comprehensive software solution for your small business. And as a business owner, you can get real-time data from all your locations and from each individual register.
Ready to learn more? Cloudscape Technologies specializes in helping retailers and restaurateurs select and implement the best cloud-based programs on the market. We have helped small businesses all over the Middle East to train employees on the new software — and we are available for support when you need it.