4 Cloud Data Security Features to Reassure Nervous SMBs
Even though it's 2021, many small business owners still don't trust the cloud with their sensitive data. Here's why they should.
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For years now, it's been clear that cloud storage was going to eventually supplant most on-premises data storage architectures. At the enterprise level, it's already happened. But further down the ladder, among small businesses, that's not the case yet. Part of the reason for that is the fact that some 61% of small businesses believe that their data won't be safe in the cloud.
What's odd about that is the fact that small businesses, as a group, already face some of the biggest security challenges for their on-premises infrastructures. According to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, small businesses now account for 28% of all successful data exfiltration events. That number increases each year because hackers now choose to go after the easiest possible targets – and they're it.
And yet, they're avoiding moving to cloud data storage, which robs them of access to leading-edge data security technology they couldn't afford otherwise. To help them get over their (mostly unfounded) security fears, here are four data security features small businesses can use in the cloud to make certain their data won't fall into the wrong hands.
SSO and 2FA Access Controls
One of the reasons that small businesses tend to struggle with data security – even when it's stored locally – is that they fail to control who can access various data sets. And most of that has to do with the reality that file permissioning is a pain using most on-premises tools (Active Directory in the hands of an amateur is a recipe for disaster). As a result, small businesses lose visibility into who's allowed to open what and often leave disused credentials active longer than necessary.
In the cloud, by contrast, simple web-based interfaces make it much easier to define user roles and access rights. And once that's done, it's easier to protect data behind single sign-on and two-factor authentication. And that, in turn, makes ongoing management of data access rights simple because everything's managed from a single coherent interface.
Real-Time Access Monitoring
Because the vast majority of cloud solutions were designed with the enterprise in mind, they're built to help large organizations manage large user bases. As a result, many platforms offer real-time access monitoring that can alert managers to potential trouble before it spirals into a business-threatening issue. Small businesses can use those features to keep their data safe in the cloud.
Google's cloud offering, for example, provides a security command center that provides real-time access visibility and various other security features. Using it, small businesses gain the advantage of proactive threat and misconfiguration monitoring that will alert them to issues before they're exploited. These are features that are mostly absent in on-premises solutions.
Virtualized Secure Data Rooms
On some occasions, businesses find it necessary to share data with employees that would otherwise not have access to it. And on others, they need to share data with outsiders they may be working with at a given time. This can happen to facilitate projects, develop proposals that require financial data, or to examine the merits of potential business deals. But every time that happens, the additional data permissions granted increase the probability that sensitive data will find its way into the wrong hands.
But when using cloud storage, it's a simple matter to make use of a virtual secure data room for files that centralizes and limits temporary data access to keep business-critical information safe. This is an online version of the process that Fortune 500 firms use while discussing billion-dollar mergers and other high-stakes negotiations. And small businesses can use it too if they embrace the flexibility and utility of cloud data storage.
Another limitation that small businesses face with common on-premises data storage is the fact that they have to resort to rather insecure means to access data while out of the office. Sometimes users end up emailing themselves files or copying them onto thumb drives to take them offsite. And when they do, those files have little to no protection against accidental loss or theft.
But with cloud data storage, business data and files are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. And they gain the benefit of full, end-to-end encryption in transit. That means no middle man can gain access to the data while it's being used, and the data itself never leaves protected storage at any point. It's a level of data protection that even beats local options like using self-encrypting drives, which have proven vulnerable in the past.
Secure Storage Awaits
The truth is, the security of cloud data storage is superior to any on-premises solution that a small business could possibly afford. And it continues to evolve to include better and better security tools every day, at very little cost to users. At this point, it's fair to say that small businesses that fear for their data's security in the cloud should take some time to reevaluate their stance.
By embracing cloud data storage solutions, small businesses can save money and upgrade their data security at the same time. It's a classic win-win that should win over skeptical small business decision-makers. That is, if they allow it to.
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