Are you in the cloud or thinking about it? By Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley 4/24/2015 Q: What is the cloud? A: That magical virtual space where businesses can upload or backup all their data for access anytime anywhere. It's low cost, convenient and offsite. But is it safe? Unless you keep your records on written ledgers and store them in a triple-locked safe, no data is 100 percent safe from hackers. Advantages of using the cloud include: • Saving money because you only pay for the space you need • Flexibility to change your computing resources without capital investment • Easy access • Super convenience -- easy to automate uploading But there are risks, such as: • Loss of control; your data is with a third party • Difficulty of changing from one provider to another • Susceptibility to outages and system failure • Vulnerability to hack attacks Q: So, what can you do to reduce some of those risks? A: Here are some risk reducers: • Control internal access to your data and who manages the relationship with your provider • Do your research. Find suppliers who adequately meet your current and likely future decisions • Fully understand security arrangements and requirements, including data encryption and password usage • Start slowly. Upload a small amount of data and monitor how the provider performs. • Plan for outages. These are just headline ideas, of course. I found many of them in a useful document produced by the government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). It's a great starting point if you want to learn more about cloud computing. There is no such thing as 100 percent data security. It is one reason why many businesses choose to insure against some of the risks and costs associated with breaches and other data-related business disruptions. Every companies needs are different but it's perfectly possible to put together comprehensive, customized coverage against these risks. Thanks for reading. Are you in the cloud or headed there?