How to Keep Your Data Safe in the Cloud

April 13, 2012 – In The News
Crain's New York Business

More and more businesses are operating under a cloud. Nearly 40% of U.S. companies are already using cloud storage, according to two recent surveys by Advanced Micro Systems and Symform. The advantages of storing data on a giant network of linked mainframes through providers such as Google, Apple, Citrix and Symantec are especially attractive to small businesses because of easy access, unlimited capacity and low maintenance costs.

But a few well-publicized data breaches— including giants Amazon and Microsoft —are causing worries about privacy issues. “Because cloud providers store such large amounts of data from various parties, they have become a target for hackers,” noted Scott Vernick. A medical practice has to worry about a patient's history being compromised, while a retail business has to ensure that consumer information isn't subject to identity theft.

Before you sign up for a cloud service, come prepared with a checklist of questions.

The cloud has to live up to industry standards. Vernick considers the American Society of Certified Public Accountants' SAS70 designation the security benchmark. It means the company has been thoroughly vetted by a third party concerning issues such as shared data and password protection. Industries subject to government regulations about privacy, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, have to be doubly careful that the cloud conforms to the letter of the law. That would include encrypting and locking up client information like medical records, credit cards and personal passwords.

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