Public vs private: What you need to know about using cloud applications for business

We spoke to Brainloop’s UK country manager and VP of sales, Mark Edge, to find out about the pitfalls of using public cloud apps for work and how IT managers can deal with the security issues they can bring to a business.

What issues occur when employees use consumer-based cloud solutions?

The consumer-based cloud is shared by multiple users, so they can access a single server to retrieve and edit information. While this enables employees to share information and collaborate on projects with fellow employees or third parties, the security of this information becomes an issue. As multiple users can access information stored in the cloud at any time, it is possible that a business’ confidential information could be either accidentally or deliberately altered or deleted by other users.

Public cloud systems use shared encryption keys. Company A’s data is encrypted with the same key as Company B. This is an issue if the key is compromised – say Company A has weak security practices and processes.

Both the cloud providers and users face security issues, as providers must ensure that their infrastructure is secure and their clients’ information is protected, and users must take steps to secure their information with strong passwords and authentication measures. If either party fails to do this then the information stored on the cloud is put at risk of loss or unauthorised access.

Personal and company data often get merged in a public cloud environment. If user A has a personal account and a corporate account, these can both be identified by the same email address in the cloud system. If the user were to move companies or close down one of the accounts it could impact critical corporate data.

Public cloud systems often do not have operator or provider shielding, meaning that the server or data centre administrator has full access to the files. The threat of insider attacks, account or service traffic hijacking and DDoS attacks also make security a critically important issue surrounding employees’ use of consumer-based cloud solutions. As well as information security, privacy is also an issue as the service provider of these cloud solutions is able to access the information on the cloud at any time.

What’s the best approach for businesses and IT managers when dealing with this issue?

Business and IT managers need to be sure that employees can share information and work collaboratively without risking the security of their information. The IT solutions currently available in the market such as secure collaboration platforms enable employees to share information while adhering to corporate compliance, intellectual property and information protection regulations.

Cloud solutions encrypt the information that is stored in them to prevent unauthorised access. Businesses should select the solutions that provide end-to-end encryption. Private clouds are also available and can be operated solely for a single organisation, increasing the security of the company’s information but not reducing the flexibility and ease of use compared with the public cloud. In addition, it is important for businesses to be able to identify who has accessed their confidential information and what alterations they have made. Workflow software keeps business’ information protected by displaying the stream of individuals who have accessed it and the changes they have made, meaning that confidential information is handled with transparency and accountability in mind.

What are the biggest security issues in the industry right now?

Collaboration and secure information sharing are big issues in today’s world as businesses and people are more connected than ever before. This means that many companies benefit from being able to work collaboratively with external parties through file sharing technology. However, it is crucial that such technology is able to protect the intellectual property of businesses even while it is being shared, to ensure that critical business information is not lost, altered or misused.

Cloud-based IT solutions such as Brainloop’s Secure Dataroom address this issue and enable businesses to work together while protecting their intellectual property and adhering to GDPR and their own corporate information security regulations. Cloud computing itself is another large issue in technology right now and one that has changed the way businesses store, manage and transfer information. Security issues surrounding access to information stored in the cloud and protections against hacking and the unauthorised use of confidential information are hugely important, and as they are being addressed by secure cloud-based IT solutions more and more companies are beginning to trust the cloud and reap its benefits.

The importance of a strong security architecture to prevent against DDoS attacks and hacking is also an issue which remains at the forefront of security technology, as an increasingly vast amount of high value and confidential information is being stored in online databases and networks. The protection of both business and personal information within sectors that work with sensitive confidential information, such as financial, legal and medical industries, is also a big issue and secure technologies are minimising the affects of information loss and human error.

How do you think cloud solutions and the security surrounding them will change in the future?

More businesses are likely to adopt cloud-based IT solutions and these solutions will develop in order to meet this demand. The security architecture of cloud computing will continue to develop and strengthen so that businesses will be able to store their important information in the cloud safe in the knowledge that thorough security measures are in place to protect it from loss, theft or unauthorised use.

Virtual workspaces such as Brainloop’s Secure Dataroom and Secure Boardroom will meet employees’ need to share information and collaborate while also protecting their intellectual property and meeting information security regulations.

As a result, business’ trust in cloud-based IT solutions will grow as features like encryption increase the security of information stored and accessed through the cloud.

What new products and services are you focusing on at the moment?

Our focus has been on developing secure cloud-based IT solutions that enable businesses to share files and collaborate on work while also protecting their intellectual property. Brainloop’s Secure Dataroom is a collaborative platform centered around workflow. The secure collaboration system can be integrated into a business’ workflows and applications to provide a seamless user experience. It enables them to continue to work using their every day business applications without the need to learn a whole new system.

Image source: Shutterstock

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