Cloud computing, where data and applications are stored remotely rather than on a company’s premises, has the benefit of significantly reducing IT costs and speeding up business operations. But one IT and communication provider is questioning whether business owners using cloud computing are aware of the security issues this modern way of working can bring.
Tech giants like Microsoft highlight how much more efficient it is for companies to rent computing power from a large tech firm rather than owning and managing their own computer servers. Therefore, instead of having to work from the office computer with its local server, the cloud allows employees to work in any location with an internet connection, creating more flexible working practices and increasing productivity. Working remotely has become increasingly popular over recent years.
Yet UK companies’ data stored in the cloud is often held in remote, distant locations, frequently in another country, and sometimes on the other side of the world. In the UK, various organisations are setting up data centres to hold all of their information. Microsoft, Amazon, the National Health Service (NHS) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are just some of the organisations progressively relying upon cloud storage.
Despite the many advantages, there are risks with cloud computing and its associated data centres that businesses need to be aware of. Simon Ahearne, managing director of Swansea-based IT company SA1 Solutions, suggests the main risk is giving up control of your data.
“Data centres are constantly in operation and the expectation is that their customers are too,” Ahearne said. “We live in a world where we work 24/7 and the cloud caters for this. The products and procedures required to deliver these services need to be continuously reviewed and developed. As security threats are always entering the digital landscape, software developers and data centre operators have a duty to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals that could be putting businesses’ data into jeopardy.
“But it’s surprising how many business leaders outsource their data management and assume all the security measures have been taken care of. You can’t make this assumption – it remains your data and you’re therefore still responsible for it.”
Brexit is another element to add to the mix of concerns for businesses when it comes to protecting their data. Compliance with UK data protection laws is the main matter many businesses are particularly concerned about once the country has officially separated from the European Union (EU). After all, the ability to keep customer information secure is vital to businesses and any risk to this will cause a great amount of apprehension.
As a member of the EU, the UK is subject to its laws, such as the Data Protection Directive. Once the UK departs from the EU, it will no longer have to abide by this ruling, or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); its replacement will come into force during May 2018. However, if the UK wishes to continue with business dealings within the EU, it will most likely have to follow similar data protection and security laws, including the GDPR.
What is of utmost importance to UK businesses is the security of their data and despite uncertainly following Brexit, compliance plans should not be delayed.
Ahearne added: “Brexit has thrown businesses into confusion surrounding data storage, but directors can’t wait for the unknown. They have to be prepared. We know that data storage is not restricted by physical location, so businesses can move their hosting to where they feel it is most secure, such as to countries where legislation is a lot stronger. High security data centres that provide the latest encryption technologies are an obvious choice. It’s about taking control, understanding where your data is and ensuring its safe.”