Many businesses hold a lot of personal data about their clients, especially if they trade online, and this can include anything from names and addresses to payment information. That's why it's essential for companies to follow the Data Protection Act, ensuring that they have the right infrastructure to keep details safe, as well as ensuring that these personal details aren't mis-used by yourself or a third party. However, the more advanced technology becomes, the harder it can be to keep up, and with cloud computing on the rise many businesses are wondering how this will effect their security procedures. Here's a basic guide to how you can use the cloud, but still keep details safe.
Types of cloud computing
The cloud covers a wide range of IT functions, and when someone talks about the cloud they can mean:
- Public cloud – These are often run from a shared data centre allowing for cheap, but not always completely secure access. There's often a lack of support, and so you need savvy IT staff to deal with them.
- Private cloud – These offer dedicated servers and can be more secure, although they do come at a cost. There's often dedicated monitoring and support services, which can be helpful for smaller businesses.
- Hybrid cloud – This allows for organisations to control many functions, while outsourcing some of the work to external workers.
It's important to think about what you will be using cloud computing for, and what your budget will allow in terms of server space and efficiency. It's important not to go for the cheapest option if you will be hosting sensitive information or processing transactions, as you will need to prioritise security. You should also look for a business IT support package that suits your company's needs, and if you choose a provider who doesn't offer ongoing support then this will be invaluable if you have any kind of problems.
When it comes to the Data Protection Act, 'processing' can actually cover a wide range of IT functions, including simply storing things in the cloud. That's why it's essential to keep things safe and secure, with the highest possible levels of security for your customers.
As a data controller, you have lots of responsibilities when it comes to remaining compliant, and this begins with deciding which data to move to the cloud. You need to keep clear records of what kind of data is being stored, as well as assessing the risks that storing this data could cause. The use of cloud services can also create metadata such as buying habits or usage statistics, and you need to ensure that this information is transparent to your customers.
When you sign up for a cloud service, you should also have a contract with the provider which will clearly set out their procedures and what happens if something goes wrong. When you are choosing a cloud provider, be sure to ask lots of questions about their security levels, support, and how they will keep your data safe. As well as online security, their data centres should also be physically protected from damage, and it's always best to use a reputable provider.
In order to stay compliant with various regulations, it's essential to keep records of how you store data, as well as details of any breaches. This will ensure that you have the information needed if there is an investigation, and that your company practices transparent data processes, and this can help you build up a trusting relationship with your clients.
Cloud computing can open up so many possibilities for businesses, and it means that they can offer a faster, more efficient web experience for users. However, it's essential that your business chooses the right provider and the right kind of service to ensure the highest levels of security, as well as keeping things running 24 hours a day. With many regulations in place such as the Data Protection Act, those who process transactions, or even just store data, need to invest time and money in keeping these things secure, and this will ensure that people use your services with confidence.