Technology Information about Information Technology
There is a growing trend for businesses now to utilize Cloud based applications in order to lower cost on infrastructure and support personnel. This option is particularly attractive to small businesses and startup companies; however, there are several things to consider in order to provide applications for employees to use that do not hinder workflow, or create security risks. First we will touch on a few of the risks involved, and then we will offer some solutions that will help companies safely and effectively take advantage of the Cloud.
The most common deterrent to Cloud computing is the security risk. "Cloud" is a marketing term for a company storing your applications and/or data on their servers which you access via the Internet. Any time you send or receive data via the Internet, there is a risk that data will be intercepted by hackers (unwanted viewers, often with malicious intent).
The second most common deterrent, oddly enough, is cost. To discover the reason for the later, one need only ask why so many software companies so happy to push customers to the Cloud. Cloud based services are subscription based, and consumers never actually own the software they purchase. In the past, companies and individuals bought software and/or software licenses, and received a disk to install the software on a computer or computer network. The company then owned their copy of the software, and could use it perpetually. Software companies only made additional revenue from the consumer by selling support contracts, product upgrades or additional licenses. Cloud computing is much more advantageous to the software distributer because they receive a monthly fee to allow customers to use the software. Once the customer stops paying the fee, the software goes away.
Another consideration for Cloud computing is legal compliance. With SOX and HIPAA regulations, companies are responsible for protecting customer/patient/client information. Transmitting such information over the internet poses risks from hackers who intercept, and even unencrypt data. Also, having a database of customer data located in the Cloud means the data resides on servers owned and operated by the Cloud provider, often on redundant servers located around the world. Redundant servers insure reliable up time, but also mean data is transmitted via the Internet to multiple locations, each with potential security threats.
With so many potential threats to Cloud computing, what is a company to do to protect their data and their business? There are several steps that can be taken: