Keeping detailed records, managing volumes of documents, and safely storing important company and client data has become an integral facet of running a business. These days, more and more companies are turning to online data storage providers, particularly solutions that incorporate cloud computing. There are obviously a lot of benefits to making documents and files easy to access, and cloud computing is no doubt streamlining many business processes and improving the operational efficiency of countless companies. This is particularly true because many data storage services offer platforms that work on multiple devices, allowing company leaders and employees to access files and complete work from essentially anywhere at any time.
In general, the benefits of online data storage probably outweigh any potential disadvantages. However, there are some services, or features embedded within certain services, that may actually endanger data that is uploaded and stored. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Synchronization and Limited or Inadequate Authentication
Many online data storage providers offer a feature that synchronizes files, and any changes made to those files, among all devices connected to that account. This automatic synchronization ensures that each user has access to the most up to date version of a document or file that has been saved within the cloud.
It is obviously useful to have these automatic updates, but because so many people are using mobile devices, sometimes even personal devices, this puts information at greater risk of exposure because it is saved and available for view in multiple locations. Services that include synchronization should require additional authentication methods for access to updated files. However, many do not require this, or they have a mediocre, easy to intercept procedure, mainly because they fear that additional authentication requirements would be inconvenient for users.
It is wise to use a service that keeps files safely stored in the cloud, but that also requires unique identifying information to login and access information, ideally two-factor authentication, rather than automatically pushing data to any and every device that is connected.
Lack of Encryption
In addition to constantly pushing data to multiple devices, many service providers do not include data encryption methods, which also subjects data to potential misappropriation. Items that do not contain confidential or sensitive information may not need to be encrypted, but for any data that a company wants to protect, it is very risky not to encrypt it.
In many cases, documents contain data that may not seem that valuable or perhaps information that does not seem like something that could be stolen and monetized, but that could actually be used to harm a company in some way. This may be something simple like stealing an idea for a product or hijacking information from a press release that has not yet been made public.
Hackers are increasingly intruding upon networks, obtaining information, and using what they obtain for financial gain in a myriad of creative ways. Unfortunately, this becomes easier for hackers to achieve when data is not protected with the appropriate safeguards, such as advanced encryption, and is available on so many devices and networks.
Lost or Stolen Devices
The idea of making information available on any device certainly has its appeal, but it does not come without its drawbacks. The problem with many devices is that they are small and easy to lose or may even get stolen. It isn’t that difficult for the finder, or thief, to look through the contents of a device, including any cloud-based data files that were automatically pushed to it.
The use of online storage services that push data to devices, without the incorporation of some sort of additional security features, may result in the exposure of important information to unauthorized individuals. As a result, companies should invest in a service that incorporates multiple levels of security, including multi-step authentication procedures and end-to-end data encryption.
Of course, there are other ways of protecting data at the source, such as implementing access control along with assigning permissions-based roles to restrict some users from accessing certain items. Ultimately, to ensure that important data is protected, companies must utilize a data storage service that employs a variety of strong security measures.