Cloud Security: What You Need to Know

When the internet was first becoming a household name, and creeping into almost every household, people had quite a few fears. These included general security, who would be able to access their information and how people could, or couldn’t, protect themselves from privacy violations. Some threw caution to the wind and dove right in. On the other end of the spectrum, some resisted and vowed never to complete any type of transaction online. And then somewhere in between, most of us were weighing up the arguments and making some cautious judgements while the information about it became available.

A lot has changed in the last 25 or so years, but could history already be repeating itself? With the explosion of cloud technology or SaaS (Software as a Service), it’s brought back some similar reactions. So is it a case of to be or not to be concerned… all over again? Let’s take a look at the facts of cloud based software security, specifically for cloud ERP, what’s accurate and what’s not so accurate.

Who Owns My Data?

Cloud based services will often give you a fairly lengthy terms and conditions agreement to read, but here’s the short and sweet of it. Look for the part of the agreement which states that you remain the owner your data.

The cloud ERP vendor simply manages the means of access to that data. Most vendors will charge their annual subscription up front, in advance of your commencement or renewal. This ensures there are no issues with continual access.

Where Is My Data Kept?

Your cloud software vendor stores your data on their physical servers – and this is why it’s important to know about the vendor you’ve partnered with. Sure, they’re incurring all the costs for running and maintaining expensive server hardware and alleviating these costs from you. But importantly, you want to have confidence in the safety and security of their physical server equipment, as well as a general understanding of their data redundancy capabilities. 

You’re putting a certain amount of trust in your vendor to not only keep your data secure, but also to keep it available in the case of emergency or disaster. Have a look at their policies and ask them to explain in detail if you don’t understand all the information.

Wouldn’t It Be More Secure Keeping Data in My Own Office?

From a physical aspect, if you don’t have a fully guarded premises with CCTV, video monitoring and continuous data centre performance audits, then generally no.

From networking aspect, if you don’t have role level access to your systems with idle disconnect and IP address restriction policies, intrusion detection systems (IDS) to identify malicious traffic attempts on your network and strong encryption policies, then again, no.

Several of the big cloud ERP vendors, such as global #1 cloud ERP NetSuite, provide this type of security as part of every subscription. It’s interesting to consider the total cost of these security measures, along with the insurance of physical servers, setup and ongoing maintenance costs, along with knowledgeable IT staff who understand how everything works. As an individual business, trying to achieve the same safety when keeping data on-premise would be a costly undertaking.

And That Data Redundancy?

Data redundancy simply means that your cloud ERP vendor has back up servers in another, separate location. They back up all customer data from their primary servers to their back up servers daily. This ensures that in case of emergency or disaster, your data remains both safe and accessible. Check out NetSuite’s quick facts on how the data redundancy and disaster recovery process works for more information.

What About Security Breaches I’ve Heard About on the News?

The majority of the big security breaches that have occurred over the last 5 years were actually from companies’ own internal databases, not from cloud based systems. These have included Sony, Ashley Madison and Target as some of the more widely publicised.

The reality is that businesses are much more vulnerable to security breaches with their internal servers than from using cloud based systems. With locally stored data, there’s also a greater tendency for employees to download work or data onto their local drives, USB drives or laptops. Bringing your sensitive data home with them into a much less secure environment can pose even greater risk. It’s also common for employees to email reports and financial data to each other, causing further security risks for your data. 

Because cloud ERP systems are web based, everything’s accessible via a secure, encrypted connection, significantly reducing the risk factors of working remotely. 128-bit encryption, IP address and specific role restrictions are some of the key cloud security features to look for, which can let your employees work remotely and securely.

What Happens If My Provider Goes Out of Business?

With any cloud based software, it’s important to do some research and find out about the cloud software vendor that’s providing your service. Due to the rising popularity of cloud computing, there are a growing number to choose from. You’ll want to get an idea of how long they’ve been in business, how many customers they’ve implemented their business software into and look their customer success stories.

A good cloud ERP vendor will also ensure you have the ability to export your important data if needed – and have the best support resources available to help you with this. Look for a vendor with a strong standing, some good customer testimonials and the resources to keep you supported.

Information Is the Enemy of Fear

Since the advent of the internet, many have become better informed about the potential risks, security and safety. Those who use firewall, antivirus and malware technology to protect themselves and their data have generally done some research to keep themselves informed. And it’s no different with cloud ERP – people are now empowering themselves with knowledge and ensuring that cloud software vendors have the security measures in place to satisfy their needs. 

Now that cloud software systems have become the next big technological movement, keep yourself informed rather than afraid and have look at the benefits of cloud computing.

You can also get in touch to start a conversation with someone who understands cloud ERP software thoroughly and can give you the right advice for your particular business.

 

Read the SmartCompany SME Directons Survey findings