We have all seen the headlines, each week it seems like another major business’s reputation is at stake due to a data breach of some kind, costing thousands of customers their personal information. While credit monitoring and other services for customers can help bring back customer confidence, the fact that a modern major business can be so vulnerable to cyber-attacks and that cybersecurity is such an issue is enough to make any board member or CEO lose sleep at night.
So is the cloud secure?
One of the major misconceptions though that many in corporate technology have is that putting information in the cloud makes it more vulnerable to attack than if it was otherwise hosted on a company server behind a company firewall. A company server, firewall, or hosted system, after all, is under your direct control and therefore less vulnerable to attack…right? Wrong.
While a business has more control over a hosted system, the reality of the situation is that with great power comes great responsibility, and if a business doesn’t have the budget, doesn’t plan their IT upgrades correctly, or has downtime to install new software or test new systems, their system is then vulnerable to attack. We’ve seen it time and time again, the Target data breach, T-Mobile/Experian, even Anthem Health, all of which are running their own systems and their own servers which were penetrated. All this for hosted systems. What about cloud security?
Contrast this with the major cloud data breaches of the past which include Google accidentally deleting 150,000 user’s Gmail accounts or Dropbox accidentally deleting user’s photos. The fact of the matter is that while public clouds still have to worry about security and vulnerability, they currently don’t share the same record for data breaches as hosted systems. Why? Because public cloud systems realize the value and are prepared to spend the resources to ensure their systems are secure.
What it all really boils down to are economies of scale. Public cloud computing systems such as AWS or Google have the resources, the manpower, and the infrastructure to make hacking into them significantly more difficult than hacking into a hosted system. While nothing is 100% safe, by putting software or data on a public cloud such as AWS or Google, you’re also buying the entire security capability of both of these major companies to come along with your services. On a very basic level, doesn’t this make more sense than going out and buying your own computers, only to have to hire an army of consultants and IT staff to manage and secure it? Why spend on all that when you can have the power of Google and AWS, the latest and most advanced software companies in the world, working for you too?
I would compare the cloud vs. hosted security debate to travelling on an airplane. If you really wanted to fly somewhere yourself, you could buy a light aircraft, make sure its maintenance is up to date, take flight lessons, and then fly yourself where you wanted to go. This takes a ton more time and way more money than most people have, just to get from point A to point B, and with limited experience and flight time you also run the risk of an accident. You might say “I don’t trust my life to anyone but myself and what I control,” but when you find yourself alone in a Cessna-172 with engine sputtering as you try to navigate through the 14,000 foot peaks of the rocky mountains on your way to a conference in Wichita, you might ask yourself “Why didn’t I fly commercial again?”
Why do this when you can purchase a ticket on a major air carrier of your choice with the best safety record, and have a comfortable (sometimes) seat while being flown much faster on much more reliable equipment by pilots who are much more trained and experienced in flying then you would ever be? Even if you miss your flight, they have another one you can hop soon after. The convenience, and the safety, can’t be paralleled with our current technological capabilities.
The same general principle can be applied to cloud software. While no system is completely secure and no airplane is crash-proof, when using a cost effective cloud business model and leaving security to these major IT players, each business can benefit from the economies of scale being realized by the use of cloud computing.
The next time someone tells you the cloud is not secure, don’t fall for it. Save yourself money, time, and headache by considering the best cloud software services that are available.
Matthew Sampias, senior ERP consultant with a global consulting company, and friend of ContractRoom has extensive experience implementing ERP, finance, and ecommerce systems across business of all sizes across multiple countries. As a private pilot he enjoys flying his own small airplane, but prefers to let cloud storage providers handle his data.
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