By now you know what Dropbox. By now you know what Box.net is. By now you know what Box.net is. By now you know popular Cloud storage providers and how online storage solutions can help you in your day-to-day personal life. Maybe you utilize Google Cloud storage to work on projects with friends or maybe you use Skydrive (Microsoft Cloud Storage) to store songs you love. Whatever you use online storage for, your personal life has benefited from the overall market adoption of Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive etc.
Free Cloud storage solutions for your personal life is one thing. Free Cloud storage providers for your business life is a whole other ballgame entirely. As every business owner and CTO knows, data security is critical. In our digital information based global market, keeping sensitive data secure behind encrypted firewalls is of the utmost importance. Although it is an unsaid rule of Cloud storage, the word “free” when it comes to Dropbox, Google Drive or any of the major providers equates to “lack of security”. Sure, the service is reliable and flexible yet it isn’t secure. For the business owner who has critical data which needs to remain critical, “free” is a major problem. Cloud security is paramount with storage solutions.
With “free” being a major problem, a question: How can businesses make the most of Cloud storage solutions while remaining secure?
Placement is Key
Let’s make the assumption as a business owner you are going to use popular Cloud storage solutions and you are also going to deploy a corporate private Cloud infrastructure. This being the case, the answer to corporate data problems is found in the placement of data. The simple way around sensitive data leaking onto the open Internet is to place less critical data within public Cloud storage providers like Box.net or SugarSync and place more business critical data behind your corporate firewall accessible only through encrypted VPN access. The truth is, for as powerful and scalable as Amazon Cloud storage can be, if you are in the business of keeping your corporate data safe, there is no reason to risk security breaches by storing sensitive information within Skydrive or the iCloud. To fully protect yourself, all sensitive data must be kept behind corporate hardened firewalls only accessible through secure encrypted VPN (virtual private network) access.
Now, we know there are some people out there who are thinking, “but come on, why in the world would someone hack my data? That isn’t going to happen to me.” Question: Do you think Linkedin planned on being hacked? Do you think Google’s GMail planned on being hacked? If the world’s largest and most IT forward thinking companies can be victims of hacking, your small to medium sized business selling safe drive systems can be hacked. Never forget proverbs: hubris goeth before a fall.
But what happens if you don’t have the money to invest in a full blown private Cloud infrastructure? What happens if your IT budget only extends as far as a few servers for your website and scalable Cloud storage solutions provided by Dropbox? For you, keeping corporate data safe is a bit trickier. But the key remains the same. All company data which is public facing – which employees need access to while on the road or while conducting a presentation to seal a deal – can be put on the company Cloud storage account. Everything else, critical business data, should be looked at as an offline venture or to be mobilized via USB sticks, encrypted external hard drives or, dare we say, paper. Sometimes keeping critical data offline is the best digital online security policy of all.
So, how should you incorporate Cloud storage providers and services into your day-to-day business operations? Very carefully.