How Secure is the Cloud?

I get asked this question so often, I finally decided to write out a full answer. So is the cloud secure? Are you ready? Here comes the big answer… Yes! And no. And also maybe so. Frankly, this is a difficult question to answer, simply because the answer is so variable. But I’ll do my best. Let’s get a few things straight…

What is the cloud? Well, it’s any piece of software or data storage that you use but don’t own. A common example that I am often asked about is off-site storage, including Dropbox and Google Drive.

What does secure mean? NOTHING is 100% secure. That means security is a comparison. To simplify, let’s say Dropbox is 90% secure. A well configured fileserver at your office that can’t be accessed from the outside is probably 98-99% secure. A poorly configured fileserver with an outward IP address could be 50% secure. If you’re looking to move your QuickBooks company file from an outdated local fileserver to Dropbox, I would say it is secure. It is only a 10% chance Dropbox will be hacked in the next few years, it would be well publicized, and your QuickBooks file isn’t worth a whole lot to a hacker group. Frankly, it’s a better value than setting up a more hardened fileserver at your office.

Now, let’s say your store confidential information for clients. This could be their finances, their legal documents, or their health records. You know 90% isn’t good enough for them, so it’s not good enough for you. Instead of that 10% chance being a small headache, it could put you out of business. Big difference!

But, like local servers, cloud servers vary greatly in their security. So here’s how to simply: for low-value information that is mostly important to you, or that you simply don’t want certain employees or competitors to see, just about every cloud service is secure. Even if there is a data breach, no one you know will see the files, only some hacker group somewhere. If your data is valuable on the black market, which could include social security numbers, credit card numbers, tax IDs, and especially patient files, your need something secure. This could be a hardened local server set up by a company who knows your industry, or a cloud offering tailored toward your industry and security needs.

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