Is the cloud really a secure platform for our data?

the cloud and data security

Another month passes and more high-profile, headline-grabbing stories of cyber-breaches, online chaos, and lost data fill the web pages, and find top billing on the 6 o’clock news.

First the WannaCry ransomware attack that brought chaos to the NHS as well as thousands of others across the world, blocking users from accessing their essential data. And then came the IT failure at British Airways that saw the company’s flights grounded, all over the world. Passengers unable to access the app or website to check-in, while operational systems at airports were also affected.

While the BA incident appears not to be a criminal cyber-attack, it’s another issue that adds to the debate as to how safe the interconnected online environment is. Global networks in which we put our trust.

It’s of acute importance in arenas where the sanctity of data is paramount; industries such as finance and insurance, bound by compliance and compelled to ensure that data is protected to preserve not only essential operations, but to uphold its legal obligations, and avoid potentially catastrophic damage to its finances and reputation.

The emergence of Fintech and Insurtech, and IT solutions that are delivered online as Software as a Service (SaaS), has seen the steady migration away from traditional, legacy IT systems. Data that was traditionally stored in-house, on-site, finding a new home in a virtual space in the cloud.

And so, with the ever-present threat of cyber-attack, or other IT failures, and the essential need to protect data for compliance and operational purposes, it’s reasonable to ask for some assurance over the safety of the cloud.

So here we go:

The cloud is a more secure environment than legacy data storage

OK, we get that it may sound somewhat counterintuitive to move your data away from the controlled setting of an in-house data centre, into a ‘virtual’ realm over which you are essentially ceding control.

However, the vulnerability of your data is not determined by where it is stored, but how it is accessed. If you have unprotected, or poorly protected access points on your IT system, then you are inviting vulnerability and trouble.

A factor that’s equally true for legacy and cloud solutions.

So why do leading IT experts suggest that cloud users are going to have up to 60% fewer breaches than traditional over the next 3 years?

Security

Well, it’s likely down to the fact that any reputable cloud-provider worth their salt understand the critical nature of protecting access to its system. Anti-virus protection that is instantly updated (as opposed to having to manually do so), offering zero-day protection, and high-level security access, including in-transit and at rest encryption.

Allowing data to be instantly retrieved, on any device, when called upon by anyone with the appropriate access codes. Guarded with always up-to-date security, and immune from the threat of physical theft.

This is not to undermine the potential safety of traditional data storage. Properly managed, with encrypted hard drives, updated anti-virus software, and regular back-up procedures can provide a safe, secure environment for your data. But it’s a system that requires constant management and vigilance. And manual updates and backups that always runs the risk of time lags, causing potential vulnerability from cyber-attack, or even physical theft.

Up-to-Date

This really is one of the most important aspects concerning the safety of your IT system. WannaCry, for instance, found vulnerability due to inadequate software updates.

Cloud solutions, including cloud-based anti-virus security, offers a more responsive process for ensuring your system is up-to-date. When, for instance, you call upon an SaaS product through the cloud, you know that the software is up-to-date, without need to manually upload patches or software enhancements.

Summary

There’s no 100% guarantee of safety for any system – IT security is an on-going challenge in which agility and responsiveness is needed to face up to changing threats. A fact as true for cloud as it for legacy systems.

But, in an industry where customer data is so vital for competitive edge, and its security is so crucial for compliance, service, and reputation, you need to be assured that the system you use is the safest one possible.

And the cloud is as robust and secure environment for your vital data as any you are likely to find.