By Catherine Wiley

The benefits of digitization and e-commerce to businesses include access to wider markets, reduced marketing costs and of course, convenience. It is not a bed of roses, however, as the growth in cybercrime incidents has proven to be a costly concern for small businesses and international corporations alike. Companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn and more recently, Facebook have faced civil and political outrage for failing to uphold user privacy after falling victim to successful hacking attempts.

Storing data in the cloud has been touted as a relatively safer option for both businesses and individuals and we agree with popular belief. Nonetheless, shifting your data storage to the cloud does not automatically make it safe from hackers – more precautions are necessary. Here are some of the measures you can take to enhance data protection and privacy and secure your company’s data in the cloud:

Why Internet Privacy is Important

Below are just a few reasons why internet privacy is important to businesses especially:

  1. For a business, having your data compromised leads to bad press and lawsuits and can significantly hurt your brand reputation. Case in point, Facebook’s user numbers slightly dipped after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
  2. Another reason to beef up your data and information privacy protocols is to avoid huge fines from the government, not to mention court-sanctioned fines to victims of data leaks.
  3. Lastly, you may want to keep your company information private to preserve your business secrets and keep your competitive edge.

Evaluate Your Employees’ Behaviors

Human beings are the weak links in cloud computing, just as with any other form of systems. Hence, you should do a shadow IT audit of your company systems to determine, among others, what cloud sites different employees are using, and whether the information stored there should be there in the first place. Concerning the latter, more sensitive data should ideally be encrypted first before being dispatched to data protection apps to ensure confidentiality. However, encryption is not a must if access is restricted to only a few people.

Choose a Safe Cloud Provider that Guarantees Data Protection and Privacy

After assessing how your employees store company data, the next step is to find one trustworthy cloud provider and negotiate a contract with them. Read through user reviews of the brands you zero in and see what people who have used the system have to say. Additionally, assess whether the company complies with the new data protection laws, known as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), passed by the EU parliament to safeguard online user data. Read rules of protection online free here.

Above all, make sure that the provider you pick also possesses the necessary certifications from reputable bodies in the industry. This includes an ISO 27001 Certificate, and a Service Organization Control report (SOC) from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Another credible certification body is the Cloud Security Alliance which gives the STAR certificate to companies that comply with industry standards.

Create Hard-to-Guess Passwords

As every web security expert will tell you, having a simple password is a major risk. Using one password for multiple platforms is even riskier as someone could get access to all your information if they manage to guess the given password. Therefore, create strong passwords that are a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols and try to have different passwords for important sites and files. If you have problems remembering all your passwords, you can use password managers such as LastPass and RoboForm.

Allow Multi-Factor Authentication

Where extremely private company data is concerned, passwords alone are not enough as they can easily be compromised. In such cases, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) would be a great security measure. Basically, MFA requires that all logins using a new device to submit a code or One Time Password (OTP) in addition to the password and username. These are usually sent via email, SMS or voice calls to a number provided during account registration. No doubt the most effective way to boost your data protection and privacy protocols.

Have Strong Anti-Virus Software

You may have done everything right in regards to securing your cloud storage, but it will all come undone if the computer you are using in susceptible to virus and malware attacks. Remember, hackers can easily gain access to your account information and thereby your cloud data if your systems are not adequately protected from malware. So, get a functional Anti-Virus software.

Backup Your Data

It is always advisable to have easily accessible backups for data stored in the clouds as a precautionary measure. You can have one backup in electronic form in an external storage device or, if possible, keep it in another cloud platform.

Cloud storage is cheaper, safer and more convenient than physical storage and has many advantages to companies of every size. However, it still has some shortcomings that can be potentially damaging to business and hence the need to be careful.  

Comments are very much welcome!

Catherine Wiley is a technical freelance author. Her main expertise is writing reviews about software and gadgets for personal security. Mostly how to topics and visualization tech. Currently she is working on several projects. And one of them is

Data security stock photo by phloxii/Shutterstock