Cloud services like to bill themselves as the answer to every small business owner’s network security issues. Just port your services to the cloud, they offer, and the security will handle itself while you focus on working. There is some truth to that, but you have to understand what the “cloud” actually is before you begin to understand how it benefits you. The cloud is not a substitute for strong network security, but it can be a benefit all the same.
For a small business to grow, it needs to learn when to outsource and when to focus its own resources. Outsourcing your network security, and file storage, is not a bad idea. However, doing so as a substitute for basic security in-house is not and here is why.
How the Cloud Works
The cloud is like an external hard drive in another location. It’s a server kept in a server room near you but typically off-site for security reasons. When you sign up for network storage, or hosting, you are paying for a few different services with storage being just one of them. The service often comes with tech support to help manage access to your files and create individual user accounts. It also has an uptime guarantee, but you shouldn’t take that too seriously. The uptime guarantee may not cover DDoS attacks, so always question your host before you sign up.
Small businesses are increasingly finding themselves targets of hackers. They are the proverbial “low hanging fruit” of the hacker world, because they often lack the resources to defend themselves.
Points of Entry
Strong network security comes from managing your points of entry, which is what an IT department does best. In addition to managing the software needs of each employee, IT typically creates a plan to minimize threats and deal with potential problems. That includes managing who has access to which files, how often they must change their passwords, which sites they are allowed to visit, and where downloads are allowed to come from.
IT also has a new problem to deal with in the form of employees bringing their own devices from home to work. Employees are also working remotely in larger numbers, presenting challenges for access off site. A hacker searches for the weakest point of entry, and small businesses are increasingly finding themselves at risk for attacks even outside of work hours.
Managing Security In-House
Many companies are beginning to utilize cloud platforms like Azure in some form or another. This is typically related to file storage, but may also manage some applications used in house as well. Azure Security is built into the application, allowing administrators to control infrastructure.
Additional layers of security are needed to manage the deployment of applications themselves. In other words, the data is protected but not the employees who access that data at the local level. The vulnerability is either the terminal itself (compromised from a bad download usually), or something within the application that allows access.
If you don’t want to lose entire volumes worth of data about your customers, you need to take security a lot more seriously. Offer your employees access to password management programs, and encourage them to devise more complex passwords. Network security on each terminal is also a must. Traffic to and from an employee’s computer should also be monitored throughout the day.
Employees granted cloud access should have full restrictions at the lowest level, granted access only to files that they need to complete their work. This limits the potential exposure that a low level breach causes to your company. It’s also a good idea to maintain local and off-site backups, in case you need to restore files quickly. Automate these backups and you will find the task of keeping your network secure that much easier.
IT departments spend a lot of their time automating their work and figuring out more efficient ways to do things. You can do the same as a small business owner, with software already existing in the wild. Creating automated solutions using existing software, and creating protocol for cloud applications, help shield you from potential loss.