What to Look for in Cloud Storage Security

If you’re concerned about venturing into the world of cloud storage, there are a few things you’ll want to consider, including whether to choose a public or private cloud. In general, public cloud storage services offer less security than private ones and one of the biggest concerns of IT professionals is that by using public cloud storage, your information can be shuffled around, thereby limiting the control you have over it.

So what can you as a consumer do to protect your data? If you’re unsure about what kinds of cloud storage security options are out there, or are diving into the cloud for the first time, here are a few things to look for when deciding on a cloud storage company:

1) Have an idea of how your data is stored. Of course cloud storage companies have a good amount of security employed to keep your data safe from hackers. But what happens when you terminate your service with a cloud—what happens to your data then? Sure you get to take it with you, but everything leaves a trace and you want to ensure that your data is protected. Having dedicated hardware is an important factor to keeping your data safe and not susceptible to hackers, hence the appeal for many of private cloud storage, which gives you tighter control over your information.

2) This one’s a no brainer: Backup your data. Despite the fact that cloud storage actually does offer great backup services for your data, the majority of companies still feel a little more secure if they have their own data backup employed as well. That way if some strange unforeseeable event ever occurred with your cloud storage company, you’ll have your own backup still intact.

3) If you’re using a data center, make sure that it has acceptable security. You want to ensure that you know which server is storing your information. Ask questions about the cloud storage company’s security standards and if they meet the criteria of organizations, such as the SSAE 16 management standards.

If you’re just throwing your data into a wide cloud, you run the risk of having your info getting lost in the cosmos. Make sure the service you choose is properly managed and that they have the expertise to help safeguard your data. Having a managed cloud service will help beef up your business, as your applications and data will be more secure in the long run. Keep an eye on how cloud storage companies maintain their firewalls, as well as their anti-virus systems.

4) If you’re unsure which service properly suits your needs, then it may help to get references from other customers as to the pros and cons of each company, and whether their security measures are sufficient. You should be able to ask for client references from your provider; you may choose to select a company that has a focus on insurance or government, depending on your own needs. Contact these references directly to get a sense of whether your business will be a good fit, based on their feedback. Take the time to do the research. Find out what they’re using the cloud for and how they use it to make sure their data is secure.

5) Remember the phrase “Caveat emptor”: Let the buyer beware. Don’t take any company at its word. If they say they have the best security, then take the time to test each service for its maximum security potential. You may also want to hire a hacking expert (a “white hat” hacker) to determine the validity and security of the service, which can help you determine vulnerabilities in the system. You want to ensure that it’s impossible for someone to gain unauthorized access to the cloud.

A good security system will help make your cloud experience a positive one. In terms of the technological advances, many clouds have improved over time, providing safer storage and superior quality, especially in terms of private clouds compared to public ones. But as with anything, taking the time to research and being pro-active in understanding how your chosen service works is the best way to ensure your data is safe.

“Image courtesy of sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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