IT security is a serious challenge for small and medium businesses (SMBs). They are frequently targeted by hackers, yet they often lack the IT security talent and financial resources they need to protect themselves. Cloud services offer an affordable way for SMBs to strengthen their security measures. However, business owners and IT professionals remain skeptical of Cloud-based security services.
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
While the SMB community remains guarded about Cloud security, there are several benefits that outweigh the risks.
Lack of Security Talent
As we discussed in Part 1 of our series, skilled IT talent is in short supply, and skilled IT security talent is even more scarce. Through Cloud services, SMBs can access top IT security talent.
Cloud security is also enhanced by advanced technology like cognitive computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These systems continuously monitor IT environments for signs of intrusion, malware, and other threat indicators. As new threats emerge, advanced security systems recognize, study, and adapt to them, thus providing the most up-to-date protection possible.
Need for Affordable Security
As technology becomes increasingly widespread and complex, the cost of locally based storage and security options is soaring out of reach for many SMBs. Cloud services are much more affordable than locally-based solutions. To implement a local solution, an SMB must buy the infrastructure up front, as a capital expenditure. On the other hand, Cloud services can be purchased as a rental model, or as a monthly operating expense.
In addition, the risk to SMBs is soaring. To protect themselves and their customers and meet their compliance requirements, SMBs need affordable and secure options. Cloud-based security is an affordable option.
Increased Complexity and Risk
The average SMB now supports around 50 mobile devices. This is just one indicator of the increasing complexity of the technological landscape for a typical SMB. With increased technological complexity comes increased security risk.
One of the great benefits of Cloud environments for SMBs is simple management. Cloud services are built to reduce management complexity. Most Cloud solutions offer simple, single-pane management.
Simple management supports good security. If you manage multiple screens, you are more likely to miss an important security alert or issue. With one pane, you can remain focused on the most important issues.
How Secure Is the Cloud?
While there have been some high-profile, Cloud-based outages, in many cases, Cloud-based services are more reliable, affordable, and secure than on-site data centers. A Cloud provider has the expertise and resources to build a more secure, resilient, and reliable data center than a typical small- or medium-sized business. For example, InfoSystems offers a Production-ready Cloud environment housed within a baseline Tier 3 data center, a higher-level SLA than large-scale providers, and a hands-on approach to Cloud migration.
Local Cloud providers can offer the same advantages as hyper scale Cloud providers, like multiple resilient backups located in several geographical regions. No matter what happens, a backup copy of an organization's data and IT environment will still exist. That type of redundancy is out of reach for most SMBs.
Whether you have high security needs or simply don't trust the public Cloud, you have the option of private Cloud. Many SMBs use private Cloud for additional security and data privacy.
Security Is a 2-way Street
Although Cloud services offer several security advantages over local solutions, security should always be a shared responsibility. Your Cloud provider can manage and monitor your environment for you, but human error will always be the No. 1 risk for security breaches.
You want to make sure your employees understand security risks, company policy, and how to recognize threats like phishing. Work with your Cloud provider to make sure that you understand exact security risks and responsibilities for all parties.
This should be clearly and explicitly expressed in your Cloud services Service Level Agreement (SLA). While nothing is risk-free, the Cloud offers a high degree of security at a price point that SMBs are hard-pressed to match with on-site solutions.
Don't miss part 3 of our 3-part series, How SMBs Keep up with Technology. You can also get our white paper, How to Safely Store and Secure Data.