At Wirehive we help businesses maximise their potential through the use of cloud technology. Not only do we migrate their data, but we improve security. We implement machine learning and AI solutions. And we protect business infrastructure from negative events.
So it is no surprise that we get a lot of questions about the cloud.
The issue of safety is something that gets asked a lot. After all, people want to know their data is safe when they’re handing it over to a third party. Also the GDPR means this is a legal responsibility.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to fully address this question, as there are a number of different cloud providers. Each of them provide a vast number different services and security measures. So, let’s take a more general approach to the security of the cloud and look at some of the main safety concerns people have with the cloud.
Keeping your data safe in the cloud
One of the major reasons people doubt the safety of the cloud is because they don’t understand how its security measures work.
After all, handing your data over to a third party does seem like a pretty risky idea. You might think your data is just left bare and vulnerable to anyone who wants to view it. But this isn’t the case. Most cloud providers will encrypt your data. This means they will use complex algorithms to hide your data, making it inaccessible without an encryption key, unique to that specific data.
The way data is encrypted varies depending on the provider. Don’t assume every service is the same. For example, some providers will encrypt your data by a process called ‘sharding’. This is when your data files are split into chunks, and each of these is stored and encrypted individually. Therefore, if someone does manage to access and decrypt one of these files, they will just get a random chunk of data, and nothing that they can actually use or steal. Obviously, not every company uses this method. It’s important to know how the providers you’re considering are going to secure your data.
How safe is the cloud? - Encryption
Now let’s consider that encryption key. This might seem like another weak spot.
Although cloud providers are invariably secure and trustworthy, not having control over your own encryption key might concern you. After all, at least in theory this key could be misused or compromised without your knowledge, meaning your data is not secure. To combat this, some providers will allow you to keep your own encryption key. This isn’t always recommended, as it can restrict your ease of use. If you lose your key, there is no way to get it back - you can’t just reset it like a password.
The majority of cloud providers take security very seriously. For instance, Microsoft Azure has over 2,500 cybersecurity experts and invests over a billion dollars annually into security. But even knowing this some people will simply feel more secure controlling their own encryption keys.
As a cloud consultancy who has worked with many companies over the year we would always recommend against this. We would advise that you choose to utilise the top level security practices of cloud providers like Microsoft.
How safe is the cloud against hackers?
So now we’ve looked at how cloud providers might protect our data, let’s think about what they’re actually protecting it from.
When people ask ‘How safe is the cloud?’, they’re often thinking of cyber criminals, or hackers. These are people who steal data online to make a financial profit, or sometimes just for the enjoyment of doing it.
For the average person, hackers aren't a huge concern. Getting past the security blocks and encryption keys cloud providers use usually requires a huge amount of processing power, equipment and time. So most cyber criminals target individual companies and the networks themselves, as they will reap a bigger reward if they can get through.
Although it isn’t impossible that a cyber criminal could break in and access your data through the cloud, it is unlikely. And there are steps you can take to minimise this possibility further.
One of the main ways hackers access private files is through poor password security. Experienced cyber-criminals will be able to crack passwords and guess security questions to access data. So, ensuring you have strong passwords can minimise the risk of cyber attacks.
Some simple tips are to use long passwords, and not to use the same password everywhere. Enabling multi-step authentication will add an extra layer of security making it even harder for a hacker to access your account.
How safe is the cloud against hardware failure?
Everyone has lost some important data to a broken laptop, phone, or hard drive - whether from physical disasters, or just digital malfunctions.
Theoretically this is still a risk in the cloud - your data can get lost. But in practice it is such a small risk it is not even worth considering.
At Wirehive we put infrastructure in place to ensure that even this risk is mitigated. Your cloud infrastructure can be set up to create multiple copies of your data, so if a single machine or even an entire data centre is destroyed for any reason, your data will still be safe.
The data centers themselves are physically remote anyway, so it is almost unthinkable that they would be destroyed. Security doesn’t necessarily need to cost an arm and a leg either. Providers like AWS allow people to pay only for the services they use, helping safe cloud usage to be accessible for all.
Storing data on the cloud is still a relatively new concept. But I hope we’ve gone some way to alleviating some of the concerns you might have about whether your data is safe. Most of the concerns that people have about the cloud are based on not quite understanding exactly how it works. The cloud is growing and maturing on a daily basis. New services and security measures are being rolled out constantly by the big three: Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
Can we help?
As we said earlier, it is impossible to truly answer the question ‘how safe is the cloud’.
But it is safe to say it is extremely safe.
If you’re looking for any more information about data security, or simply want to see what options are available to you, feel free to get in touch. We can go through any security concerns you have, or any other questions about the cloud!