Cloud apps have added a new world of possibilities and scalability to business operations. Data is more accessible, distributed teams can work from anywhere, and collaboration is easier than ever.
But there is one thing to keep in mind: Your data is not necessarily more secure. Cloud apps are still vulnerable to attack and human error, and data can be lost forever if you’re not careful. Many apps don’t come with sufficient security and data protection capabilities, and recovering data—when it’s possible—often comes with a hefty price tag.
Even if you think that such an attack or mistake could never happen to you—a risky gamble—there are other reasons to worry: Can you hedge off a legal inquiry or compliance issue?
Whether you’re already using cloud apps or simply exploring the possibility, it’s important to understand how to protect your data. Here are some of the risks that come with using cloud applications, and how to better secure your data.
Internal mistakes and mishaps
Human error will always be one of the main causes for data mishaps. Whether it’s an employee who accidentally presses a “delete all” button on an important file, a miscommunication in which an employee believes documents are no longer needed, or a misplaced laptop, human error can cause important data to go missing in an instant.
In some cloud apps, data can be completely and irretrievably deleted with just a few clicks of a button. In others, critical files may spend only 30 days in the recycling bin before disappearing forever. In any cases of human error, this may not be enough time to reverse a decision. If a project is cancelled and then suddenly revived two months later, all the data you had will be lost.
Similarly, corrupted data is an uncontrollable mistake that could hobble your business. Without properly stored backups, a mishandled or corrupted bulk upload to SalesForce could ruin a carefully collected data set. That’s tough to undo unless you have an up-to-date snapshot.
Intentional security breaches
Of course, human error isn’t the only problem you may face. Although many believe that the absence of a physical anchor for the cloud means that it’s safe from all forms of vulnerability, the cloud is just as hackable as an on-premises setup. In both cases, one of the most pressing issues is ransomware, which costs the United States $75 billion a year.
While the word ransomware may conjure images of a locked computer, cloud apps can be held hostage in much the same way. To prevent his, you need two different forms of protection. First, you need reliable snapshots of the data that can be easily restored after wiping the environment clean of ransomware, and second, you need to encrypt those snapshots so that the ransomware can’t damage them as well.
Cloud apps can also be accessed and meddled with through lost or stolen devices that end up in the wrong hands. Despite the fact that the cloud is not anchored to a specific device, a device can serve as a portal to all of your cloud applications. Without the proper geolocation and remote wipe protections, all those browser-remembered passwords and auto-logins will come back to haunt you.
Shaky legal standing
Legal trouble probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with cloud app security. But it’s a risk for one important reason: Your cloud-based data could be crucial to either a lawsuit or a compliance issue that your company faces. And if any internal or external threat damages your data, you could cause serious damage to your legal case.
Be prepared with your data backed up, indexed, and searchable, so that you don’t get fined by the court, hurt your case, or fail compliance audits. It doesn’t matter why you don’t have the data—if you don’t have it, or simply can’t find it, you open yourself to harm. The better organized your backups are, and the more snapshots you have from different points in time, with clear audit trails, the more you help your case in whatever legal hurdle may come your way.
Boost your cloud app security
Many powerful cloud-based productivity tools like Office 365, Box, SalesForce, and Google Drive have minimal safeguards for data protection and recovery. Backups are often handled manually, one file at a time, which isn’t a scalable solution. If anything goes wrong, you could be left in dire straits.
This is where data protection platforms come in handy. They’re able to store, archive, time stamp, and recover snapshots of all your cloud data, without messing with the metadata or impeding day-to-day operations. The best backup plans do just that, and centralize data from all your cloud applications in the process, turning what could be an expensive, weeks-long data recovery process into a simple, minutes-long task.
Cloud apps have their advantages, but you can only fully rely on them with the proper data protections in place.
About the author
Yadin Porter de León has spent the last decade in the technology field, working with local and global firms focusing on the complex service and product needs of companies within today’s technology and regulatory landscape. He currently serves as Senior Content Marketing Manager for Druva.