The 5 Benefits of encrypted cloud storage (and much more)
Cloud storage is the default method for businesses all over the world to maintain records and customer information, but data is vulnerable when it is being transferred to or stored on a cloud server. For this reason, modern businesses have turned to encrypted cloud storage to protect their most important and sensitive data from unauthorized access.
Data security is essential to business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) and compliance with national and global regulations, and securing data in the cloud has never been more important. Since 2015, the amount of corporate data stored in the cloud has risen to 60 percent, and this number is only expected to grow. Encryption is the best way to ensure that this information is safe from cyberattacks.
In this post, we will explore what encrypted cloud storage is, why it’s a great option for businesses, and where to get it at an affordable price.
What is encrypted cloud storage?
The first step to recognizing the benefits of encrypted cloud storage is fully understanding what exactly it is. We can more easily define the concept if we first take apart the phrase and examine each piece individually.
Defining cloud storage
In essence, cloud storage is the process of saving data in an off-site location rather than on a local server. People can then access this information using the internet or a private network. The data is stored by a third-party cloud provider that hosts, secures, manages, and maintains the servers to ensure that you have access to the data whenever you want.
Although people may think of cloud storage as a relatively recent concept, the origins can actually be traced back several decades. In 1969, Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider assisted with the development of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which is considered a precursor to the internet. Licklider envisioned an Intergalactic Computer Network in which everyone could connect via computers and have the ability to access information from anywhere in the world.
As technology progressed and the internet became a household service, the practical applications of cloud storage became evident. In 1999, Salesforce became one of the first organizations to use cloud computing successfully when they developed cloud-based customer relations management software. At the beginning of the 21st century, the progression of cloud storage escalated as major companies like Amazon began using it for their services.
Cloud storage for individuals and businesses became increasingly popular during the first decade of the 21st century, and by 2015, security had become a major concern. While there are numerous benefits to storing information on cloud services, there are also significant risks of hacking and data breaches. Developing and improving security methods for cloud storage is a top priority.
In theory, encryption is a simple prospect. Text or information is disguised so that it can only be read and understood by specific people. In practice, it’s a bit more complicated and requires frequent innovation and adjustments.
Encryption is an ancient practice that has played a role in some of the most significant events and cultures in history.
- Ancient Egyptians used encryption of written text for religious reasons, to demonstrate advanced writing ability, and to protect knowledge.
- In 500 BC, the Spartans used encryption for military purposes. They wrote messages on strips of parchment paper that were only decipherable when combined with a cylinder known as a scytale. This is considered the first use of a common key for decryption.
- During World War II, German engineer Arthur Scherbius created the Enigma code machine. Efforts to break the Enigma codes led to the invention of modern computers and the recognition of the need for the scientific study of cryptography.
- In 1970, IBM created a block cipher to protect customer information from theft. This became the American government’s first Data Encryption Standard (DES) in 1973 and wasn’t decrypted for 24 years.
There are two general categories of encryption: symmetric and asymmetric. In symmetric encryption, the sender uses the same key to encrypt the information that the receiver uses to decrypt it. Asymmetric encryption involves two different keys, one for encryption and one for decryption.
Today, encryption is a vital component of everyday life. Even though people don’t always realize it, encryption occurs when we browse the internet, send an email, or withdraw cash from an ATM. In each of these cases, information that is transferred between machines is encrypted using algorithms to ensure that vital data is protected from hackers and cyberattacks.
How encrypted cloud storage works
Now that we understand the meaning and background of both encryption and cloud storage, putting them together is fairly straightforward. In basic terms, encrypted cloud storage is the practice of disguising information stored within the cloud so that, even if a data breach occurs, the information cannot be accessed.
When a business stores information in the cloud, it can be scrambled and made indecipherable to outside parties. This process occurs while the data is at rest, in use, in motion, or all three. In other words, the data can be encrypted while it is in storage, as an employee uses it, or during the transfer process.
In cloud storage, the business owner may choose to encrypt the data before it is transferred to cloud storage. Alternatively, files are encrypted after they are transferred from the business to a third-party cloud storage provider. The provider then transfers the key to the client so that no one else can read or use the data.
The 5 Benefits of encrypted cloud storage
Effective encryption is vital to the safety and financial future of not only businesses but also governments and private citizens. In 2021, there was a record-breaking number of data breaches, and cyber-attacks are on the rise for businesses of all sizes and in every industry. However, when proper security protocols are in place, encryption deters cyber criminals from trying to access or steal information and renders the information useless in the worst-case scenario in which they achieve unauthorized access.
First, encrypted cloud storage is an affordable and practical option for every business regardless of size, number of employees, and budget. This is significant because, while much of the attention is paid to large companies that suffer cyberattacks, in reality, small businesses are equally or even more vulnerable. Just like larger organizations, these businesses have extensive records of sensitive customer data, including addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, and, in some cases, even social security numbers. Protecting this data is vital to the long-term success of any organization.
In addition, cloud storage is ideal for businesses who are experiencing or expect to experience significant growth. Whereas internal servers have limited storage and must be upgraded or expanded when a company scales up, cloud storage offers an easy method of storing large amounts of data and alleviates the concern about running out of space.
As remote and hybrid work has become more popular, the modern workplace has become more flexible than at any other point in the past. However, there are risks with regard to data exposure when employees are located off-site, using various devices to access information, and working at different times and in different time zones. Encrypted cloud storage resolves each of these concerns individually.
If businesses make use of encrypted cloud storage, this allows employees to access data from anywhere without sacrificing security. A business that uses an in-house server or chooses not to encrypt its data does not have this same level of adaptability.
Likewise, employees can safely use multiple devices if information is encrypted and stored off-site. Ordinarily, the transfer of information between multiple devices would increase the risk level. However, encryption can be used to effectively protect not only customer data but also communication, passwords, and web traffic on any and every device.
Lastly, encrypted cloud storage providers can offer data protection at all hours of the day, every day of the year. Data is safe no matter whether an employee is working early in the morning or late at night.
3) Privacy & Security
One of the most important aspects of encrypted cloud storage is that it offers protection from both external and internal forces. Cyberattacks have become increasingly frequent, particularly in certain industries including banking and finance, healthcare, and education.
Attackers regularly take advantage of the increasing usage of cloud storage because data is especially vulnerable during the transfer process between the client and the cloud storage provider. Although unencrypted data offers an easy opportunity for cybercriminals seeking to gain unauthorized access to customer and employee information, the process of encryption makes the information nearly impossible to read or use.
This security also applies to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are built into applications, including those on mobile devices, to enable apps and software to communicate with one another, and they are frequently used by organizations operating in the cloud. If an API does not have strong security, it can expose data during the transfer of information. Encryption reduces the risks presented by APIs and secures the data transfer process.
Although the majority of concern is typically placed on nefarious external actors, there have been many cases in which disgruntled employees, business partners, and contractors have intentionally leaked or accessed data at their present or former employer. Additionally, people who are not particularly proficient with technology may accidentally expose information by improperly handling it or making errors in implementing security protocols.
If an organization uses a third-party encrypted cloud storage service, the control and protection of this data is no longer at the hands of employees who may intentionally or unintentionally create a security risk or data breach. Instead, a team of experts manages the security of this data and ensures that it is unreadable by criminals.
To prevent exposure of customer data, identify theft, and loss of privacy, governments around the world have taken measures to ensure that businesses properly store, transfer, and use customer data. Recent laws and regulations result in much stricter oversight and penalties than previously existed.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented in 2018 to protect the data of any and all citizens of the UK. This law had massive implications for global businesses, as any company that could potentially sell products or services to UK citizens must comply with the GDPR. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) followed not long after the GDPR and enacted similar requirements.
Failure to comply with these kinds of laws is potentially devastating to businesses. The fines imposed by regulators can lead to a company permanently shutting its doors, particularly in the case of smaller businesses. Businesses are required to to know exactly where data is stored, how it is being transferred, how it is secured, and who has access to it. Encrypted cloud storage clarifies and simplifies each of these practices and helps businesses to maintain compliance at all times.
Businesses that fall prey to cyberattacks and experience data breaches often suffer severe consequences. If an attack occurs, many different kinds of information can be exposed. These include sensitive customer and client information, usernames and passwords for company accounts, and proprietary business documents
As a result of this exposure, businesses can expect significant financial and professional repercussions. Businesses who experience data breaches have the potential to lose millions of dollars. In addition to the fines imposed by regulators, these businesses can also expect to face
- lawsuits from customers, clients, or employees affected by the breach
- long-term damage to the reputation of the brand
- negative media coverage
- a decreased customer base
- terminated business partnerships
All of these factors contribute to very uncertain business continuity and can lead to bankruptcy.
Fortunately, using encrypted cloud storage acts as a deterrent to hackers when they consider accessing information. Despite common perceptions, hackers are not particularly interested in taking on the most challenging hacks. They want to maximize their profits, which requires accessing information as quickly and easily as possible. If they detect that data in the cloud is strongly encrypted, they are less likely to try to access and decrypt it in the first place.
Challenges of encrypted cloud storage
Encrypted cloud storage is a highly beneficial method for businesses. However, it if is not properly managed, disaster can result. To ensure that their storage method is effective, businesses should always
- research and test any third-party provider to ensure it is legitimate and effective
- keep encryption keys in a safe place and allow access to only the most trusted individuals
- maintain regular data backups and scanning
- be fully aware of whether data is encrypted or not
Business leaders who fail at any one of these tasks run the risk of compliance violations and damaging data breaches.
Options for encrypted cloud storage
When considering cloud storage, businesses must choose a trustworthy provider and an appropriate product. This decision largely rests on the needs of each business.
Large businesses process enormous amounts of data. Thus, they should seek out a business continuity solution with multiple terabytes (TB) of data storage and sophisticated security and recovery measures.
In contrast, a small or medium business (SMB) does not need as much storage but nevertheless wants excellent data security. Most SMBs need a small but powerful product with a reduced storage capacity and important features like instant data restoration.
Finally, a business that relies on Software as a Service (SaaS) applications should not neglect its cloud data. Some business owners assume that platforms like Microsoft 365 include sufficient data backup and recovery options, but this is not the case. A Microsoft 365 backup product like Datto SaaS Protection or Redstor offers protection, restoration, and encryption of your SaaS data in a secondary cloud. This provides a critical failsafe that allows businesses to restore lost or destroyed data in M365 and other common SaaS platforms, such as Google Workspace.
After decades of development, the cloud has clearly won the battle and become the preferred storage method for corporate data, but it does not come without challenges. Businesses that do not use the appropriate security measures for cloud data are putting their own interests and the privacy of their customers at risk.
The stakes for data protection are high, and it is vital that every business uses a secure and reliable method. Encrypted cloud storage is a safe, affordable, and accessible strategy for businesses of all kinds, and partnering with a company like Datto or Redstor is the best way to ensure that businesses secure their data and their future success along with it.