Here at Blue Ridge Technology, we’re big fans of the cloud.
Cloud technologies can unlock so much potential for today’s businesses: file storage and even applications that can be accessed from anywhere, software tools that don’t have to be installed or updated on everyone’s laptops, and access to computing power to do seriously cool things that SMBs likely couldn’t afford to do on their own servers.
For nerds like us, there’s plenty to geek out about with the cloud.
But there are some security dangers associated with the cloud (at least, with using the cloud poorly), and we want our readers to know about them.
Is the Cloud Secure?
A whole lot of people have the idea that the cloud is less safe than the alternative. After all, if you’re putting all your sensitive data “out there” on the internet, isn’t it easier for the bad guys to steal?
Hang with us for a second: while this is sort of exactly what we want to warn you about, it’s still generally not true.
We know—super confusing. Let us try to explain.
There are two sides to this coin. The cloud is usually quite secure, but you should be aware of certain threats.
Let’s break this down. We’ll start with “the cloud is usually quite secure.”
Who’s Better at Computers: Microsoft or You?
The cloud is usually, generally, extremely secure because of who’s running it. The big-name paid cloud services, like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and a dozen or so others? You’ve got almost nothing to worry about.
That’s because when you use their cloud products, you’re getting their cloud security. And — we don’t mean to step on any toes here — if it’s you versus Microsoft or Amazon, it’s not hard to guess who’s better at computers, right?
It hardly matters who you are or what your company does, your own in-house IT security team isn’t operating on the level of these global giants. It’s orders of magnitude easier for the bad guys to break into your basement server than it would be to compromise Google’s datacenter.
So, to sum up: if you’re using a carefully built cloud environment hosted by one of the big names, your risk of a data breach (well, one that’s your hosting provider’s fault) is near zero.
Now let’s move on to “…but you should be aware of certain threats.” We’ll cover three of them here.
Problem #1: Not Everyone Is Microsoft or Google
The first problem is that there are other cloud providers besides the big guns. Some companies will offer you free or extremely cheap cloud storage, but that storage isn’t protected like what you’d get with the big providers. Data protection may even be your responsibility with some of these guys.
Our advice: if you’re going to use the cloud, go with someone you can trust. (Not sure who that is or who’s got the best deal? We can help.)
Problem #2: Some SMBs Aren’t Using the Cloud Properly
Remember how we said, “If you’re using a carefully built cloud environment?”
Yeah, lots of businesses (especially small businesses) aren’t doing that.
If you’re not a particularly tech-savvy company (and maybe even if you are), we don’t recommend setting up your own cloud environment without help. Doing so might mean unintentionally creating a security threat.
Problem #3: Credential Compromise Is Still a Real Threat
There are some scary stats out there about cloud server compromise, but the honest truth is this: most of those breaches don’t involve sophisticated hacks. They just use the stolen credentials we’re always warning about, collected via phishing schemes or malware or other nefarious means.
And here’s where using the big guys can actually create a new danger: phishing emails pretending to be from Microsoft or Google or AWS or Cloudflare are much more common (and likely to be believed) because the companies serve so many customers.
Ultimately the advice here is the same: train your people, implement multifactor authentication, use a password manager.
To sum up: the cloud can be extremely powerful and unlock new capabilities. When you do it right, it’s quite secure. But you need to know for sure you’re doing it right.
Not sure? Curious how you could leverage the cloud to do more? Reach out to our team; we’d love to help.