Cloud storage has become an increasingly practical way to store information, ranging from basic documents and emails to sensitive data such as financial information and customer records. In addition to the cost savings potentially gained by reducing the need for hardware and infrastructure investment, cloud scalability allows you to adjust storage capacity based on your changing business needs. Most cloud storage providers offer robust backup and recovery capabilities as well as advanced security measures. Employees can access data from anywhere and enjoy easier file sharing and collaboration. Despite the benefits, however, cloud computing carries a degree of risk, and your organization must follow best practices to combat this.
Risks Of Cloud Storage For Companies
Every day, we hear about new data breaches, and statistics show 1,802 U.S. companies had their data compromised in 2022. The industries targeted most often included healthcare, financial services and manufacturing, and the breaches impacted 422 million individuals.
A few of the most common ways an organization’s cloud storage gets accessed include:
- Hacking or unauthorized access to the organization’s cloud storage, potentially resulting in data breaches and financial losses.
- Data loss through intentional theft of company data, including financial and customer information, possibly resulting in lost business and damage to your reputation.
- File sharing, leading to the unintentional distribution of sensitive company information with unauthorized parties. This can result in data breaches and potential legal liability.
- Local access that allows unauthorized users to gain physical entry to your company’s cloud storage. This can potentially cause data breaches and the loss of sensitive information.
- Accidental synchronization between employees’ personal and work devices, resulting in the unintentional sharing of company data and legal liability.
- Compatibility issues that end in data loss or corruption, impacting the efficiency of your business operations.
Moreover, organizations relying on a single cloud service provider run the risk of vendor lock-in, making it difficult to switch to a new provider if problems arise. A lack of control over the cloud infrastructure can also be a threat, as your business might not have complete visibility into the cloud storage provider’s security and operational processes. If the cloud storage provider gets hacked, your confidential data could be exposed. This risk is compounded by users having limited control over their data because it’s stored on the cloud provider’s servers.
Other challenges associated with cloud storage include stolen credentials. For example, if a user’s password is weak or easily guessed, their account can be hacked and their login information stolen. Malicious software can be installed on individual computers to gain access to and compromise the organization’s cloud storage data. Employees can find themselves unable to access their data due to technical issues or cloud provider downtime. Users also often receive phishing text messages, emails or calls targeting their cloud storage login information. Not all cloud storage providers are compatible with all devices, and specific devices may not work well with certain providers.
Best Cloud Storage Practices For Organizations
Organizations should follow best practices when it comes to storing and sharing documents within a company cloud account. These include:
- Defining authorized domains and investing in data loss prevention software to protect sensitive information.
- Establishing company policies for separating work and personal documents to ensure employees understand the boundaries.
- Avoiding storing documents locally and preventing employees from synchronizing personal file storage systems with their work computers. This stops the accidental sharing of personal or sensitive information.
Your executive team must have a clear understanding of the data collected and stored in the company systems and an inventory of all applications and vendors employees can access. In turn, employees must be instructed and trained to set strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication and avoid signing into accounts on shared or public devices.
Other ways to secure data include encrypting all devices with access to your company data, including mobile phones and tablets. Avoid giving your employees mobile access to cloud data and disable every employee’s mobile control center from the lock screen. This step can prevent a thief from changing a mobile user’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth settings, resulting in access to their data. The reason behind this is if a mobile device is stolen, the thief’s first action is likely to be turning on flight mode from the lock screen. Once they do that, tracking the phone is no longer possible.
Ensure your users set strong mobile passwords and encrypt all devices with access to corporate data. Train staff to understand the risks associated with phishing attempts sent via text messages and emails. For smartphone security, we recommend ensuring employees delete old devices and enable self-destruct. These measures help protect sensitive company information from unauthorized access.
Maximizing The Benefits Of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage has become a popular method for preserving and sharing data for both personal and business purposes. However, using it presents several risks that can lead to tremendous losses of data and money. Companies must train employees to develop healthy cloud habits and follow best cloud security practices on all devices. By taking the appropriate steps to safeguard company data, your executive team can maximize the benefits of cloud storage while minimizing the risks.
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