Is the cloud secure enough to store all of your sensitive business information? It’s a simple enough question, but one few of us would have a definitive answer for – in fact, we ran a Twitter poll to gauge opinion on moving sensitive data on to the cloud, and it came back as a 50/50 split…

On the face of it, the cloud seems like a perfect business solution – helping to cut business costs and speed up IT systems, while saving on the time and money needed to set up and maintain a local server network – yet we still don’t feel completely confident about making the move over to it.

But why?

What is our issue with the cloud?

Business often has a natural suspicion where new technology is concerned, especially a disruptive technology like cloud storage, which has some serious implications for tech giants like HP, Dell, EMC, and Oracle, which have traditionally sold hardware and software that companies could set up in their own data centres.

Joseph Bower, a Harvard Business School professor, explains: “When the technology that has the potential for revolutionizing an industry emerges, established companies typically see it as unattractive: it’s not something their mainstream customers want, and its projected profit margins aren’t sufficient to cover big-company cost structure.

But cloud computing isn’t exactly a new technology – the idea of has been floating around since the 1960s, and the cloud has been in mainstream consciousness at least since 2011, when Microsoft launched its ‘to the cloud’ adverts. Even Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been around since 2002.

Trust could be another issue, but it’s not as if big name businesses are being coy about staking their reputations on the cloud, as three of today’s biggest tech giants – Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – are ALL pushing their own cloud-based technology.

It’s not even as if there’s insufficient room and resources to handle massive amounts of data – last year saw Netflix move its entire movie streaming service over to the AWS cloud and shut down its last remaining data centre.

Yet we’re still not completely sold on the idea, as just 10% of the world’s data is currently stored in the cloud – so it could all be a question of security.

How to stay safe in the cloud

Another Twitter poll, this time from Clear Sky Data, a US-based global storage network, highlighted that most people felt security was the biggest challenge businesses faced when moving to the hybrid cloud, a storage solution that utilises both local and off-site resources, often to supplement internal storage with public cloud storage.

Although there’s always going to be a certain level of risk in effectively handing over all of your data to a third party, unless you’re a big enough business to store everything in your own local network, there’s a good chance you’re already doing this, at least partially, via a shared server.

In reality, the cloud is at least no less secure than local networks – the majority of major data breaches over the last five years, including the Ashley Madison and TalkTalk hacks, have all been from internal databases.

The major cloud providers should also offer an extra layer of security by giving you the option to handle your own encryption keys, meaning no one at the provider end is able to gain access to your data, no matter how hard they try.

The thing to remember is that cloud hosting companies are there to simply provide the resources to store and access your data, and while there is an onus on them to make sure the network is secure, you are ultimately responsible for your own data and what happens to it, meaning a level of vigilance is required from you as a business owner.

If you’re considering the cloud, but concerned about security, the infographic below from business software specialists, Sage, outlines everything you need to know to stay safe in the cloud.

For more security tips, check out How to stay safe online

Sage Guide to staying safe in the cloud