Cloud security is a hot topic, often cited as one of the main concerns that prevents businesses from adopting this type of IT solution.
There are some who argue that the cloud is intrinsically less secure than traditional on-site set-ups, while others contend that migrating data and services to the cloud will actually allow companies to operate in a more secure environment.
But precisely how secure is the cloud and are there any points of certainty in the argument that can help companies decide whether or not they should adopt?
The defining aspect of the cloud is that it allows companies to access IT services that are hosted remotely rather than on premises.
This could throw up security issues in itself, since the responsibility for ensuring the physical and digital integrity of business-critical information is of course placed in the hands of a third party.
However, there are also benefits associated with this approach which mean that the cloud can actively enhance the levels of security available to your firm.
For example, if data and apps are housed on a remote data centre, which is staffed 24 hours a day by staff who monitor the location itself and check for virtual breaches, it will be far harder for malicious groups or human error to compromise them.
The security risks associated with storing company data on portable devices is reduced thanks to the cloud, because by granting remote access to important information rather than requiring that it is stored locally reduces the risks of loss and theft.
In this scenario, if a laptop, smartphone or tablet is lost or stolen, it will not also result in the leakage of company data, which could be both embarrassing and expensive.
As regulators push for ever tougher rules on data protection, being able to ensure that your business is compliant with them will become increasingly important.
Economies of Scale
What can help to sell cloud security to the sceptical is the argument that individual businesses cannot possibly hope to achieve the same levels of protection as dedicated provider data centres. For all but the largest of corporations it is simply impractical to provide security on a similar scale, because doing so would be prohibitively expensive.
The cloud, then, is able to offer a safer and more convenient way for businesses to store data and run apps with fewer threats to worry about.
No IT solution can boast total security, but the cloud gives companies of all sizes a better chance of avoiding the pitfalls of modern computing, helping them enjoy better protection against persistent risks.
One thing that is worth remembering about the cloud is that while it may be a giant leap in the technical sphere, for end users the story of adoption can be one of familiarity.
Cloud platforms are still protected by the same password systems as on-site solutions, which means there is still the potential for security loopholes to originate from end users rather than the platforms themselves. As such, businesses need to take a proactive stance towards security, ensuring that staff are trained in this arena so that vulnerabilities such as weak passwords do not end up being the Achilles heel of your IT infrastructure.
Ideally the unfussy nature of cloud app interfaces should mean that drumming home the message of security will not be too difficult a task, since staff will be able to familiarise themselves with new systems quite quickly.
As long as businesses are not complacent and make themselves aware of the peculiarities of the cloud, there is no reason to avoid adoption. Scepticism is still rife in certain areas, but the cloud is doing much to prove itself as the more secure option.
About the Author
The author, Jamie Garner, is an employee of Daisy Group, a leading UK provider of cloud computing services.