Cloud computing and threats to data security
July 22, 2011
Cloud computing is a booming global industry. Forrester Research recently reported the sector is expected to reach a value of $241 billion by 2020, compared to $41 billion this year. While such projections may be subject to fluctuations and other disruptive technologies, they nonetheless suggest businesses and consumers are demanding ways to store their data on the web.
The implications for the business community are immense. On the one hand, cloud services offer the possibility of remote workforces, and on the other they allow users to store critical data in safe off-site locations.
However, as businesses and consumers begin to rely on cloud computing, as well as mobile and social media technologies, the threat of data breaching becomes more and more apparent.
A recent survey of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses found more than two-thirds of companies - 68 percent - believe a threat exists to the security of their online data. However, most are satisfied with their respective IT security measures.
The 2011 Trend Micro Canada SME Survey, conducted by Environics Research, found Canadian SMEs are split over whether such security threats arise from firms not taking necessary precautions to protect data (38 percent) or because existing software doesn't provide adequate protection (33 percent).
What's more, small firms that have adopted cloud-computing measures claim they are driven mainly by the desire to spend less time and money on IT systems and maintenance.
"SMEs are taking advantage of the cloud, but they aren't necessarily familiar with the term," said Ian Gordon, marketing and channel chief at Trend Micro Canada. "Many use cloud-based applications for human resources or customer relationship management and other business needs, but don't associate those applications with cloud computing."
In adopting cloud solutions, small firms should research how peers or even competitors are using the service. What benefits are they gaining from cloud solutions and how can your firm adopt similar strategies?
Also remember that cloud computing is dwindling in cost, so don't immediately opt for an expensive solution. Do some research and weigh your company's specific needs. While some firms may offer comprehensive software and hardware solutions, there are other much smaller services that can store data directly through a free web service.