Protecting Your Data in the Cloud
Written by Administrator

Protecting your Data "in the Cloud"

Many of you would have recently read or heard about the recent closure of “MegaUploads.com” a public cloud based storage website. Unfortunately as a result of this article, there have been some concerns over Cloud systems/storage as an option. Our intention with this newsletter is to educate you on the difference in the cloud and make some sound recommendations on what you can do to protect your data whilst in the cloud and discuss how we protect your data in our Private Cloud Environment.

Firstly do not let this closure of MegaUploads.com (a Public Cloud Storage Provider), discourage you from considering, or even continuing to use cloud solutions. There are a plethora of benefits behind using cloud solutions in your business and even in your home computing environment. We will touch on this in a future article. Our focus here is to quash concerns about the cloud.

The reason for MegaUpload.com (I’ll refer to it as MU) closure is due to the alleged hosting of a large amount of illegal pirated content e.g movies, music, software, etc. Also the owner allegedly openly allowed this content to be hosted on his site. That aside, there was still a lot of legitimate content on MU and unfortunately a great number of users and businesses are now stuck without their data – which will likely not be returned to them for years, if ever.

What did these users do wrong? Well some would say nothing; MU should not have been acting illegally. Granted, but whose data is it??? The user owns the data, and thus the responsibility of the data rests solely on the user. MU was a PUBLIC Cloud Provider. They provided an online space for anyone and everyone who wanted some online space. Much like Dropbox, XDrive, YouSendit, Facebook, etc. These are all public cloud providers and they as such do not provide any guarantee for your data and or security of your data. Public Cloud Providers essentially provide affordable/free solutions for cloud services. You get what you pay for essentially.

Due to the fact that there are no agreed terms in most cases with these public cloud providers – especially free or low cost solutions, you don’t know where your data is stored, whether it’s backed up, and who on earth actually has access to it! Scary thought Yes?

On the other side of the fence, exist Private Cloud Solutions Providers. The Business Doctor is considered to be a Private Cloud Solutions Provider. Private Cloud is a dedicated solution, built to the needs of the client. It is seldom free and there are contracts and service level agreements, where by provision is guaranteed for the protection and security of your data amongst other things. You should look for notes about the availability, security and protection of your data within Private Cloud provider’s contracts or terms and conditions. The Business Doctor NSW runs a multisite, constantly extending network. This means your data can be replicated across multiple racks across multiple locations if you so choose as part of your service. Also we employ an industry standard exceeding offsite backup solution whereby a physical copy of all data is securely backed up and encrypted to our tape backups and these tapes are removed and rotated weekly. We employ the newest Generation Firewall and security systems to protect your data from unsolicited access. These systems also protect our systems from bad content through the use of strong category based web filtering. In other words, users are not able to download illegal content via our systems. We maintain these daily via systems logging into our monitoring systems. Aside from this we do not provide cloud solutions to the public. All our business is for business. The Business Doctor NSW is a business solutions provider only. All services are contracted and selective. We do not engage in hosting of questionable services whereby we do not fully understand the nature of the business data.

CloudLock

Our guarantees aside, there are still some good practices that can be employed by you: the users. These practices can be put into place on both public and private cloud services. Private solutions should not require these practices, but it’s your data so do what you feel is best for your data.

  1. Keep a local copy of your data. Buy an external hard drive and keep a copy of what you have in the cloud on it. We also have a clever little online synchronization tool that maintains a copy of your data automatically. Contact us for more information
  2. Ask your private solutions provider, to send you a copy of your data on a tape/CD/DVD or other backup device at regular intervals. This means you always have a copy of your data in case something happens. It also forces your provider to create a full backup which you can check and actually verify is getting the correct data backed up. We provide this solution to all our clients upon request and only charge for the cost of the backup media and some time. It is simple to provide, as we just make a copy of your current backup which we do as normal practice.
  3. Use multiple cloud solutions providers – This may not be so practical from a private solutions perspective, but is definitely recommended if you wish to use a Public/Free cloud solution to host your data. For example if you use drop box, use XDrive as well or use a private solution to backup your data.
  4. If your data is critical and must be always online and secure, don’t use public cloud. Seek out a private cloud solutions provider. Keep an eye out for Service level agreements on Security, Availability and Protection of your data, and by all means interrogate the company on what levels of protection they use.

The short and long of this article is don’t condemn all cloud solutions because of one provider’s illegal activities. Take this as a friendly tap on the shoulder to investigate your solutions and to make sure your data is sufficiently protected. Cloud solutions have been available and used en mass for years in big enterprise. It is only now becoming more affordable for commercial and consumer use. It is the way it is implemented and managed, that is important. If you have any burning questions of your supplier, ask them! Don’t sit back and “hope she’ll be right”.

Please feel free to contact us about anything in this article and feel free to email or call me if there is anything we can help you with protecting your data.

 

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