Cloud computing is not only changing the way large corporations do business, as it is also changing the manner in which SMB owners like you conduct their business. This is mainly down to the fact that SMB’s realize this is something of an upgrade to their IT system, without on-site tech to manage or additional PC infrastructure to invest in. It provides more than just data, but the means to run applications and programs remotely and without being tied to your desk. This is one of the main reasons why flexible working continues to grow in popularity. However, many small business owners remain hesitant about moving their business data and processes to the cloud, and this is partly down to security concerns.
First, what about the benefits for small business?
There is a reason why cloud computing is being chosen by many small business owners in a range of sectors, including healthcare and recruitment, and that is down to the myriad of benefits the technology provides:
- Compete with the big boys: It didn’t take long for small business owners to realize that cloud computing services would provide them with the infrastructure to compete with large corporations, without having to invest a hefty amount of money.
- Support: If you’re a small business the idea of having a dedicated IT team may be distant on the horizon, and with the cloud you don’t even necessarily need them. If you opt for a good cloud services provider, then they can be your IT team and provide training in how you and your team should use the service.
- Flexible: If you’re running out of server space, then just request another one from your provider, and hey presto! There’s no waiting weeks on end for this kind of upgrade.
- Cost-effective: Because you do not need to invest in as much on-site technology and since you can offer employees a flexible working arrangement, this can help to cut back on expenditure.
- Easy to get started: It’s easy to get your cloud service set up, or to get your provider to do so, and then you and your employees can get working.
- Remote working: Your business’ data and programs can be accessed from any location where the internet is available.
Then again, there are security aspects a small business needs to consider
Firstly, you are placing your business data in the trust of an outside entity that is based off your premises, so in a very real way you are placing the security of your business data in another person’s hands. If the trust is not there, there’s either something about the company that doesn’t fit with your needs, or you just don’t have the level of trust needed to make the cloud work for your small business.
Secondly, the chances of losing data through the cloud may not be the likeliest of events to occur, but it is nonetheless a situation that you are advised to prepare for. The cloud is vulnerable to hacking just like much of everything else on the internet. On-site backups may seem like a good idea, but these are placed under a different threat.
Thirdly, following on from the above, an internal breach from an in-house business associate or employee is an issue that should be considered.
Fourthly, one aspect that needs to be considered in the long run is laws in place to protect sensitive customer data; if this is applicable to the area in which your small business operates. It is not only advisable to understand the laws governing data, but to be aware of laws governing the security of your business’ data in the location where your data is stored.
Lastly, less of a security risk but simply general advice, you should do all you can to learn about the cloud and relevant security issues, so that you can then understand how this will affect your business’ workflow.
How to address cloud computing security concerns
There are ways that you can ease worries about taking your small business into the cloud, including:
- Employee security policy: The cloud brings up some unique security issues for your business and you need to address these. Remain up to date on potential security threats and put a policy in place as to how your employees should operate.
- Governing access: From the beginning, you need to decide if employees will be able to access business data on personal devices and the procedure to follow should a device be lost or stolen.Also, be attentive of who has access to what, as people from different areas of your business won’t necessarily need the same access privileges.
- Passwords: I advise you to get creative with passwords and not just use those that are easy to guess. Another thing with passwords: if an employee leaves your company, make sure that you change the passwords!
- Be secure about your provider: Do your research before choosing a cloud services provider, and make sure that they have a good reputation for their service and the level of security they provide. An independent audit of a supplier’s security standards, if feasible, is a good place to start.
Weighing up the pros and cons
From this, you can see that there are security aspects your small business needs to consider before venturing into the cloud. However, it is not necessarily the case of weighing up the benefits against the negatives, but more about deciding what you want from the cloud and making a business decision as to how it can improve your company’s workflow.