What are the potential risks of cloud computing?
While there are many benefits to cloud computing, and we are huge advocates of taking your business systems online, there are still a number of risks involved that all business owners should be aware of so they can minimise any potentially adverse actions. So what are the potential risks involved with cloud computing?
Lack of control
While handing over your IT to a cloud service provider might seem like a good idea, you are also handing over control of your data. This means that you’re relying on the service provider to keep your data secure. Given the increasing number of high profile security breaches that have occurred recently, this should be your biggest concern. Make sure you check your SLA (Service level Agreement) and Privacy Agreement so that you understand not only the provider’s responsibilities but also your own.
While it’s great to be able to work in the cloud from your nearest café, what happens if you can’t connect to the internet? How long can your business survive without access to client data or your payment processing app? Even if your internet service is fairly reliable, what happens if there’s a problem at the server end? While most cloud providers guarantee 99% uptime, the 1% downtime could potentially be devastating if it occurs during your busiest time. Make sure you have contingencies in place so that your business can continue to operate offline should it become necessary.
Being based on the internet leaves cloud computing quite vulnerable to being hacked. It’s important to weigh up the fact that while cloud servers are more likely to be hacked due to their size and the amount of data they store, their level of security is also generally higher. Compare this to the level of security on your own servers and the fact that hackers are starting to target small business more frequently as they are seen to be more vulnerable. It’s important to ensure you have a complete understanding of your provider’s security policy and ensure it addresses mitigations to governance and security risks. The policy should cover who has access to the data and what security measures are in place to protect your data.
While there are some risks with using cloud computing, they are far outweighed by the benefits. As they say, forewarned is forearmed and by having an understanding of the risks, you are better placed to ensure you have strategies in place to minimise the risks.