The Internet of things (IoT), development of mobile device capabilities, and shift in employee working habits are changing the way businesses store and share information. A primary contributor to this change is the increasing reliance of companies on cloud technology. A joint study performed by Emergent Research and Intuit predicts the percentage of U.S. small businesses that utilize cloud computing will increase from 37% to 80% over the next six years. While cloud computing facilitates greater mobility, productivity, and collaboration, a primary concern among businesses has been how to develop an effective cloud security solution.
Hackers are developing increasingly more advanced methods for exploiting the security holes, and both people within a business and companies need to be proactive about how they prepare for such threats. More organizations are becoming aware of the penalties involved with a data breach and are exhibiting a growing willingness to invest in cloud security features to protect their business-critical information. The sections below explore why and how cloud security is changing the tech industry and the way companies protect their sensitive files.

Data security and the cloud: A rising concern

Traditionally, organizations have viewed security less as a business-critical expense and more as an optional investment. However, that perception is changing as more and more companies begin to comprehend the extensive repercussions that can result from a security breach.

Security breaches have increased

The Identify Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported the number of breaches that occurred in 2015 totaled 781, the second highest number since the ITRC began tracking the incidents in 2005. Security investment is no longer an option, but a determinant of a company’s ability to survive in today’s world of connected networks and devices.

Size doesn’t matter

Any business of any size is vulnerable to a cyber-attack and should build a layered defense to protect against a breach. A study performed by the National Cybersecurity Alliance revealed a large gap between the perceived and actual risks data security threats pose to companies. Of the small businesses examined, 77% believed their organization to be safe from cyber threats, when in reality, 87% did not have a formal written security policy in place, and 59% did not have an incident response plan for when a data breach occurred.

The “It won’t happen to me” attitude is changing

Contrary to what some small businesses believe, the information they store is valuable to hackers looking to take advantage of an uninformed employee or outdated security application. Considering that 71% of the data breaches examined by the National Cybersecurity Alliance were targeted at small businesses, enterprises are clearly no longer the only ones at risk.
The increased number of data breaches combined with a firmer approach by federal agencies have begun to shift the “it won’t happen to me” perception prominent among today’s businesses. The Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) 2016 round of random HIPAA audits and the increasing public data breach reports demonstrate the government’s bolstered approach to addressing cybersecurity. Essentially, businesses are finally being held accountable for implementing the protocols necessary to protect theirs and their clients’ data.

Costs of a data breach

On average, a data breach can cost a healthcare or small to medium size company up to $690,000 in legal fees, but a business without proper insurance can find itself paying significantly more to cover breach mitigation.
It can take an organization anywhere from two months to two years to be informed of the fines and penalties resulting from the incident. The cost and time expended to remedy the issue can potentially terminate a business because these costs can include a loss of sales, damaged reputation, and stricter compliance requirements that can increase expenses for the business moving forward. These factors contribute to the fact 60% of small businesses do not survive for a long period of time after a breach. Thus, the escalation of concerns about cloud security among businesses is certainly justified.

Cloud security solutions

Of course, providers are already working to fulfill the user demand for more effective and easy to deploy security controls. Companies such as Microsoft have already developed solutions catered to data protection in the cloud. In fact, Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is the fastest growing enterprise SKU in the company’s history. Microsoft’s solution provides businesses with automation, user-authentication, and data monitoring capabilities they can use to more effectively regulate the transfer of information both within and outside of the organization.
A business needs to have the right firewall, antivirus, anti-spam, and additional technology to defend their cloud-hosted information against a data breach, but not all security processes can be automated.

Organizations not only have to buy, but need to successfully adopt and implement cloud security features throughout their operations. This requires IT professionals with the skills to effectively administer features such as automation, encryption, and document rights management, as well as regular employee security training programs to ensure staff are well-informed regarding the company’s policies and primary security threats.
Doing business in the cloud is inevitable, and so are the threats that accompany cloud computing technology. If your business is looking to move to the cloud, contact an Aldridge firm representative today to find out more about how you can enhance both the security and productivity of your organization using a cloud-hosted solution.