Backup in the cloud -- peace of mind and protection against hacking

As a growing number of businesses migrate to the cloud to manage their most important information, and an increasing number of cyber vulnerabilities are identified on a daily basis, the integrity of cloud security has become an important and ubiquitous concern.

However, smart companies are putting panic mode on hold in favor of educating themselves on how best to protect their vital data. No solution by itself can make your business hacker-proof, but there are several precautionary measures that help to minimize risk. One important step is backing up your cloud data.

What all the fuss is about: Cybercrime isn’t just a Hollywood plotline

Cybercrime is a real and increasing threat. From CNN, The Washington Post and Time being hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, to Chinese cyber spies attacking major U.S. companies and even a national defense contractor, the news is littered with accounts of serious data security breaches that damage businesses and individuals alike. Just yesterday AVG and Avira were attacked by pro-Palestinian hackers. Companies are taking out cyber security insurance policies and the Chinese and American governments are having summits about hacking. Net users like Mat Honan, whose entire digital life was destroyed by a pair of kids posting racist and homophobic messages via his Twitter account, are falling victim to hackers who simply want to cause chaos.

In short, these types of malicious behaviors are prevalent and often have tragic, embarrassing and even company-threatening outcomes. But they’re also unavoidable, and as more Internet users take full advantage of cloud computing and storage, finding ways to combat the effects of hacking will become increasingly important for the future of the digital landscape. There are valid arguments on both sides about whether the cloud makes hacking inherently easier or harder. However, if businesses know how to protect against and recover from malicious incidents, then the freedom, accessibility and ease of collaboration offered by the cloud far outweighs the risks.

What you don’t know about the cloud: It’s not invincible

Many cloud users assume that the information they store in the cloud is fully safeguarded by the security measures taken by their cloud vendors. While this holds true for several security concerns, hacking is not a threat from which the cloud is impervious. Not only can hackers use code-cracking algorithms and brute force attacks to acquire passwords, but they can also access data en route to storage if it is not fully encrypted.

What’s worse, cloud companies like Google may not help recover lost data once it has been deleted or corrupted through a digital affront. This means that all the data you store on Google Apps, such as your calendar, contacts, documents and spreadsheets, which often contain important financial information, can be accessed, abused and permanently deleted by hackers with little hope of getting it back.

If information is compromised in SaaS programs, such as Salesforce.com that manages customer accounts, or Workday, which contains sensitive payroll and personnel data, an entire business can be taken down. In fact, 60 percent of companies that lose crucial data shut down within six months of the loss.

The good news is that there are ways to protect your data by using several well-chosen passwords along with a password manager and never linking multiple accounts, as well as two-factor authentication that adds to data security. But none of these are complete solutions by themselves, and all should be used in conjunction with the most critical measure you can take: backup. McAfee online security expert, Robert Siciliano, recommends using a cloud backup service and two or more external hard drives stored in separate locations for maximum protection.

What you need to protect your business: backup

Backing up cloud-stored data has become an industry best practice because experienced IT professionals understand how frequently information is lost through human error, sync malfunctions, miscommunications in collaboration and, of course, hacking.

There are several ways that backup companies can help your business fend off hackers and store data as securely as possible. Encryption is a key facet of data protection. Your backup company should ensure that your information filters through an algorithm that encrypts content so it can’t be read by unauthorized users, and that it is only unencrypted when you decide to access your data. Backup services should also guarantee data transmission via SSL protocol and require passwords for information access and decoding.

However, the primary way backup helps combat the effects of hacking is by helping you recover from a hacking event. Trusted cloud-to-cloud backup companies, like Spanning Cloud Apps, reduce the threat posed by hackers by enabling full recovery of compromised information to its original state in just a matter of clicks. These backup companies regularly replicate your cloud data and safeguard it in a separate cloud so that the likelihood of data loss from natural disasters and other threats remains infinitesimally small.

If your corner of the cloud is hacked, backup services can immediately hand you a copy of your data, helping you get back to business. There’s no solution out there that can make the cloud or your business hacker-proof, but having a bulletproof backup plan can get you back to your pre-hacking state as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Find out more about data vulnerability in the cloud and what you can do to protect yourself and your company by reading this article from Spanning Cloud Apps.

Image Credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock

Charlie Wood is the CEO and founder of Spanning. He started writing software at age 10, got a Mac at 14, started his first business at 17, and has been iterating ever since. In 2010, Charlie spun Spanning out of the company he previously co-founded, Spanning Sync, whose eponymous application is the de facto standard for syncing Google Apps data with Mac OS X applications. Previously, Charlie was a Group Product Manager at Vignette and the VP of Enterprise Solutions at NewsGator Technologies.

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