What You Need to Know About Security When Moving to the Cloud

Joe Reithmeier May 2, 2016

Cloud security issues have you feeling under the weather?

Cloud computing isn’t the future of business. It’s what companies are doing right now to make their businesses better. Cloud computing is a fantastic option for many businesses seeking increased productivity, collaboration, and mobile accessibility  while decreasing costs.

The concern many business professionals have is the security of cloud-based computing. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to think about to ensure your data remains secure.   

Shifting roles but not responsibility for IT Security

With an in-house setup, you are able to review security from within and ensure everything is in place. With outsourced data storage, your role shifts to administering the work to a third party provider. Though you have outsourced the storage of your data to an outside source, you can’t help but be concerned about your file storage. In the event of a data breach, your company will likely be held responsible. You will have to deal with irate customers and the public relations backlash that comes with it. Of course, if your data is lost or erased by a third party, not only will your business suffer a devastating blow, but you’ll likely blame yourself for choosing a provider that would allow that to happen.This makes it vitally important that you do your due diligence both when moving to a cloud provider and throughout your time working with them.

Research  before you move to the cloud

In order for your data to remain safe, you need to practice comprehensive vendor management. Try to research your chosen provider’s SSAE 16 audit. This will give you great insight into their security. Released annually, the audit will usually provide information on two key areas: the provider’s security record and their user control considerations.

Obviously, you want the audit to be as clean as possible with no security blemishes at all. If there are negative findings, however, you should analyze and research them to find exactly what they were and how they might impact your own security.

User control considerations

Within the user control considerations of an SSAE 16 audit are the controls that you will need to have in place to compliment the cloud provider’s service. For example, the user control considerations may remind you to remove access for employees that leave your company.

Doing the necessary due diligence can be a significant undertaking, as reading through SSAE 16 documents is a time-consuming task. That’s why it’s a good idea to try and keep all of your cloud services with the same company. It reduces the work involved in monitoring the security of your data and ensures there’s a net positive effect as the result of moving to the cloud.

Taking ownership of your IT security

Even if you have yet to move to the cloud, you should have a firm handle on your business’s IT security–and security concerns only become greater if you do hand your data over to a third party. For instance, when you do move to a hosted service, they usually won’t be part of your Active Directory. As a result, you need to be diligent with the onboarding and offboarding of employees. Each time someone leaves your company, all the passwords they used need to be changed and any physical access keys recovered. Going through the list of passwords that need to be changed each time you have a staffing change can be a very time-consuming task, but processes like this one are crucial for sound IT security.

Many companies run into issues with audits after they move to the cloud. Businesses mistakenly assume that once a cloud provider is in place, they don’t have to worry about providing documentation or answers to auditors about their security practices– this is a mistake. The worst answer you can give an auditor is that somebody else handles any aspect of IT security for you. In order to pass an audit, you need to show a clear understanding of your company’s IT security practices and protocols.

Don’t be afraid of moving to the cloud

Cloud computing can provide an enormous boost to your business,  enabling your employees to do more out of the office, as well as collaborating with others, all the while decreasing your energy costs. Don’t be afraid to plug into the cloud – or, rather, free yourself up by moving to it! By taking the necessary mindset that IT security is still your responsibility, and by taking the appropriate measures to ensure the proper oversight and management of your cloud provider’s security practices, your transition to the cloud can be a successful one.


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