Most people have heard of storing information in "the cloud," but do you know what this means, and if it is even safe?
A cloud is basically a network of servers that offer different functions. Some of these servers allow you to store data while others provide various services. The cloud is made of millions of servers across the globe and most are owned by private or public corporations. Many of those corporations are diligent about security, and you are likely using the cloud whether you know it or not.
Most customers using cloud services have faith that their information will remain safe. But there are some precautions you need to take. Here are some questions to ask any cloud service provider before relying on them to store your business data:
- How often do you clean out dormant accounts?
- Who can access and see my data?
- Where is the data physically kept?
- What level of encryption is in place?
- How is the data backed up?
- What’s in place for physical security?
- Are private keys shared between others if data encryption is being used?
Keeping your company data safe
Over time, a company surely will accumulate data that seems irrelevant, but you shouldn't be so quick to dispose of this data, especially if it is sensitive. This might include data such as customer or client information, employee information, product information or even old employee records.
The truth is, you just never know when you may or may not need this information, so it is best that you keep it. Digital data should be backed up in the cloud. If it’s paper, convert it to digital and store it offsite. Here are some things to remember when doing this:
- All data, even if old or irrelevant, should be backed up.
- Data retention policies should always include an "expiration date" for when this data is no longer useful to you.
- Companies that want to delete old data should understand that deleting files and emptying the recycle bin, or reformatting a drive may not enough to get files off of your computer. Hackers may still be able to access this data.
If you actually want to remove all of the data on a disk, literally break or smash it. To truly delete a file, you must physically destroy the hard drive.
Consultant Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft prevention. Learn more about Carbonite’s cloud and hybrid backup solutions for small and midsize businesses.