Is It Safe to Store Data in the Cloud?

Since its inception, people have wondered whether storing data in the cloud is safe.

For over 10 years, the answer to that question has been a resounding "yes." To fully understand why, you'll need to understand how cloud storage works.

Whether you're already a technology pro, or if you're looking for a ground-up explanation, we've got you covered

Traditional Servers Versus Cloud Servers

Traditional servers are physically installed in a room and store your data on hard drives.

Cloud servers are online systems that store your data on the internet through websites. Physical servers have been losing popularity over the years as cloud-based options have replaced them.

Some people still prefer physical servers, and there's no set rule to determine what's best for your company, so you will want to consider all the pros and cons of both. 

Traditional Servers 

There are typically two types of traditional hosting with physical servers, dedicated and shared.

With dedicated hosting, a company pays for one or more servers and the complete resources of a service provider. The company gets a dedicated amount of bandwidth, RAM, drive space, and CPU, and has total control of the server resources.

With shared hosting, a company gets a more low-maintenance and cost-efficient plan from the service provider. The company pays for a set amount of space on physical servers, and those servers' resources are shared by numerous different companies. Sudden changes in website traffic and technical problems can be concerns with traditional servers. 

Cloud Servers

Cloud servers, also known as cloud computing or cloud hosting, allow a company to pay as they go for the amount of data storage they need, instead of paying for a set amount ahead of time.

The ability of service providers to offer on-demand virtual storage on an as-needed basis gives companies scalability that was previously unimaginable. Cloud hosting stores your data across multiple servers, balancing the load, and offering redundancy.

If a single server goes down, it won't affect your company, unlike traditional servers. Service providers can house, maintain, and run all the necessary hardware and software, saving you time and money. 

silver cloud lock

Image via Flickr by FutUndBeidl

Cloud Server Security 

There are essentially two forms of security with cloud hosting: network security and customer security.

Service providers can't afford to lose their customers' trust, so they invest a huge amount of resources and money into network security to ensure their cloud hosting is safe. Service providers take on the responsibility of security and invest in things like network firewalls, equipment and infrastructure security, building security, and all the other factors that control the security and safety of storing your data. 

Customer security is the weakest link when it comes to the security of cloud computing. If your company isn't storing data correctly or doesn't have its cloud system set up properly, then no matter how strong the security your service provider offers, your company's data could still be at risk.

It's estimated that 99% of the time, any security breaches with cloud networks are due to mismanagement by the customer, and not the cloud service provider. 

Pros of Storing Data in the Cloud

Storing your data in the cloud is far more secure than storing it on a hard drive. The servers are housed in offsite, heavily guarded warehouses, making theft nearly impossible.

They are highly encrypted, which makes hacking extremely difficult. Ease of access makes managing your data a breeze with neatly organized folders, drag-and-drop file sharing, and the ability to send data as web links. Cloud storage is also cost-effective since there's no need to purchase external hard drives and USBs.

These are just a few of the many benefits to your company using the cloud. 

Cons of Storing Data in the Cloud

It is possible for cybercriminals to hack into your data by bypassing or guessing your passwords or security questions.

There is also a risk of data being accessed and seen, even if it's not stolen or reproduced. Legally, the government has the right to request any data stored in the cloud, and you would have to provide it.

Cloud strategies for keeping data protected sometimes lag behind actual cloud use, leaving companies at risk of exposure. A larger bandwidth may be needed to accommodate regular business use, heavy website traffic, data backups, and more all happening at the same time. Many of these cons are also true for traditional servers. 

Common Security Threats

The biggest threat is unauthorized access, which can be external or internal.

Externally, there are dark-web search engines designed to crawl the internet with the sole purpose of finding exposed storage buckets. Denial of Service attacks happen when a website is flooded with traffic to overwhelm the server, but this is actually less effective with cloud-based servers than traditional ones.

Of course, there's always the advanced persistent threats to your data by digital hijackers, but again, this can also be a concern with traditional servers.   

Far more commonly, the majority of security threats come from users inside your company. Employees can access data they shouldn't be able to access when storage buckets are misconfigured.

Some other ways unauthorized users can access company data is through insufficient credential management, abuse of cloud services, insecure interfaces, shared technology vulnerabilities, information leakage, insufficient due diligence, and system vulnerabilities. This is why there are huge benefits to using a service provider who can manage and assess these risks for you. 

Is Cloud Computing Secure? 

Yes, your data is safer stored in the cloud than it is on a hard drive. However, using a cloud service provider with two-factor authentication and high encryption, along with a full suite of other services, is ideal in preventing any accidental mismanagement that would leave your data at risk. 

Here at Dimension Systems, we're the ideal partner for companies that are looking to reduce the pain and expense of running their IT infrastructure.

Our clients are served by a dedicated team of highly-experienced technical experts. Our team members ensure enhanced collaboration and problem-solving efficiency.

If we didn't calm all your concerns about the security of storing your data in the cloud, please drop us a line.