Cloud Myth: It's Not as Secure as Your Own Server

By now, cloud computing has become a simple fact of life for most small businesses – even for those who don’t know it. If you use a file sharing service like Dropbox– or even a social media service like Twitter or Facebook– you ‘re using the cloud. Because all “using the cloud” really means is that you’re using a remote server that is maintained by somebody else to store, share or manage your data.

Small businesses have been moving to the cloud in large numbers lately for the simple reason that it gives them access, at a reasonable price, to storage, software and equipment that would be too expensive for them to buy and maintain themselves. But some small businesses have remained hesitant about taking full advantage of the cloud, mainly because of a few misplaced fears. Call them myths, or just misunderstandings, there are a few common doubts newcomers often have about the cloud. Some of the biggest are about security.

Security is a big deal, and for good reason. There is no worse disaster for any business than to lose proprietary, or customer, information. According to a recent survey by North Bridge, a technology investment firm, while worries about security– losing valuable data to thieves via hacking or other kinds of theft– have eased somewhat, they are still the biggest reasons businesses think twice about migrating to the cloud.

In just the first two months of 2014, the Identity Theft Resource Center counted 111 data breaches at U.S. businesses, government offices, and universities, exposing roughly 2.3 million records. In a story about data security last fall, The New York Times observed wryly that “there are now only two types of companies left in the United States: those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked.”

Everyone has read news stories about security failures at retailers, and elsewhere, and the recent stories about crashes at some of the big cloud providers. Also, it’s understandable that it just feels risky putting your data someplace that is not completely under your physical control. You wouldn’t do that with your wallet or car keys, after all.

The reality, however, is that it is actually safer to store your data and apps in the cloud than it is to keep them on your own server. Ask yourself, who has the resources to best protect that data– a reputable cloud vendor with enterprise-level firewalls and constantly updated safeguards against malware and other threats– or you who is running a business and has many other things to worry about?

Think of it this way: it might seem a little counterintuitive, at first, to give your money to a bank, rather than keeping it someplace where you can keep an eye on it, night and day. Most of us, though, feel a lot safer doing that than having all of our dollars stuffed into a mattress.