How to Keep Customer Data Safe in the Cloud

Article Written by Avery Phillips

Your customers are important to you and your business. Being of significance to you, it would be fitting for you to keep the customer data you obtain out of harm's way. At the same time, you are considering cloud services to accommodate the large capacity of not only customer data but company data as well. So, how do you enjoy the benefits of off-site cloud computing, while keeping your data safe?

Below are some of the biggest threats to data loss, cyber attacks, and otherwise questionable methods of obtaining sensitive data, and what you should watch out for to keep your customer data safe on the cloud.   

Data Breaches

In 2017, we saw very large companies fall victim to massive data breaches, unwittingly releasing sensitive customer data. Equifax, a major credit reporting agency and the hardest hit, revealed information of 143 million US customers. Your business holds very sensitive customer data such as credit card information, social security numbers, and birthdates - all which can be used to turn your customer's loss into a cyber attacker's gain.

It is up to you, as a business owner, to choose a cloud service provider knowing and understanding the security protocols used by them. It can be easy to see how a digital transaction without the proper security measures can result in your customer's loss and possibly a fine for you. So, storing SSL encrypted customer data, malware detection, and various levels of password security should be a regular policy, both by your company and the Cloud service vendor you choose.

Abuse of Credentials

An unfortunate number of cyber attacks happen as a result of a corrupt past or present employee. Misuse of sensitive data can happen, as an inside job, by those who are working the closest with customers to obtain this data. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to have all of the proper cyber security measures in place to protect against outside threats - both in your company, as well as your service provider - only to have your customer data stolen by an insider.

In an instance of misuse of credentials, the accountability falls upon you, the business owner. As it was not a result of servers being accessed from the outside, it was an employee who obtained the information and created a breach internally. A strong assessment of your hiring practices should be done, to determine the character of the employee who will securely and correctly handle your customer's sensitive data. Offer multiple layers of authentication including a secure signature of digital customer documents to prevent employees from forging signatures. Proper training techniques, and possibly even limiting what certain employees can see is suggested to further limit possible internal threats. Although, you may also limit the amount of eyes on your company and customer data on the cloud by choosing to limit data only to be accessed by service provider system administrators.

Disaster

In rare cases, a natural disaster can strike. Your physical servers, whether on the cloud or on-site, can be greatly affected. It may be passed off as an unlikely event, but the consequences of a disaster can be monumental for your business. If there was an earthquake or a flood that took out your servers, not only would you lose your customer data, but your company data would be lost as well. As The Hartford warns "An estimated 25 percent of businesses don't reopen following a major disaster." Data loss such as income information can severely hurt your business and if you don't have insurance you may not survive the loss.  

One of the cloud's inherent capabilities is the instrumental role it can play in your business' recovery plan. By having even a portion of your data storage off-site covers your bases in the inopportune occasion your company suffers a natural disaster. By the same logic, holding your data on several cloud servers in several locations offers even protection. One consideration when choosing your cloud service provider, however, is where they are located and the likelihood of natural disaster at that location.  

Cyberattacks will continue to happen, and combating threats to your customer data is a constant battle. There is a silver lining here, though, as with each cyber attack, companies can understand what happened and improve to prevent the next one. Cybersecurity has never been more important than today - calling for the focus and attention of you and your company to see the signs and how to stop it.    

If there are any security concerns for your customer data stored on the cloud, it helps to look inward to see steps you can take to help your cloud service provider better safeguard your sensitive data - as many mistakes that can lead to the vulnerability of your data can be the result of a company oversight or misstep. However, illuminating some of the threats above provides you with a better understanding of how to handle them, and will better prepare you when considering the safety of your customer data while choosing your cloud services.

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About the Author


Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things relating to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian.