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What happens when it rains – is moving to the cloud always a good thing?

Throughout the last year, organisations and individuals have had to adapt to remote working and a reliance on online collaboration tools such as SharePoint, G-Suite, Slack and Dropbox. However, even before the pandemic struck, many organisations were moving their systems and information to the cloud. Against this backdrop, the question arises whether moving to the cloud is a good thing, and what are the main associated risks which organisations should consider?

Up to 83% of companies will use cloud-based software to make their work easier and faster

The move to the cloud is now probably irreversible, with Forbes Magazine estimating that up to 83% of companies will use cloud-based software to make their work easier and faster. There are some considerable advantages available, which have proven incredibly beneficial for companies over the last year. In particular the cloud has been a key factor in allowing flexible working for employees who can still easily collaborate on projects, and access their core information from anywhere efficiently.

Cloud based applications such as SharePoint, Teams, the G-Suite, Monday.com and so on allow for full visibility of, and real-time collaboration on, critical business information, ensuring that work can continue when not in a physical office. Within the context of projects at Hart Square, working in the cloud has allowed us to continue to deliver and collaborate with our clients and to ensure vital projects do not stall.

Additionally, there are considerable security benefits that moving to the cloud brings now; data centre operators, and the service providers who host servers, data and infrastructure within them for clients, have to invest exceptional amounts into the security layers they put in place, well beyond anything that we as individual businesses could justify. Ensuring data centres are secure and safe is fundamental to the viability of their business.

This allows you to access your data from anywhere in the world, so even if you did lose a laptop this need not result in a catastrophic loss of data and embarrassing headlines, although there are warnings to heed too.

Risks and mitigation

As the recent Solar Winds Hack on the US Government has shown, once data is stored online it cannot be 100% protected. The security technology around it may be state of the art but, at the same time, data centres and hosting operations are considered higher-value targets for hackers and cyber terrorists, so there is an inherent risk in moving to the cloud that you do actually make yourself more of a target, more vulnerable to attack.

Alongside the recently-publicised attack on the US government, there have been several reported attempts to steal vaccine data from Oxford University for example, further proof that we are entering a new age of cyber warfare, where information is the prize and the target. Organisations will need to consider the risks around moving to the cloud and take action to protect against them.

The key question for organisations must be what if the worst happens and how will you respond? You have to ensure that you have a strategy in place behind any move to the cloud, that it works for your business, that you have assessed the risks, and that you have a risk mitigation plan in place in case of an incident.

At a minimum your plan has to cover damage limitation. reputational risk protection, disaster recovery and business continuity. Some considerations for you when drawing up your plans, as highlighted in a recent KPMG white paper, include:

  • Who owns the risks – is it you or the supplier?
  • What are the different judicial regulations of where your data is stored and the rights around this (e.g., US vs EU)?
  • What are the regulatory requirements around reporting incidents?
  • Where does liability sit in case of the exposure of confidential information?

In summary, moving to the cloud has huge benefits and has enabled organisations to adapt to a virtual world more easily. However, to avoid cloud Armageddon, there are important considerations to manage and reduce your risks.

There is never going to be a scenario in which your data is 100% safe in the cloud.

However, by taking the time to assess your options and answer these key questions, you will reduce your exposure and mitigate the risks to ensure this continues to be a scalable solution for business and to maximise the huge benefits that working in the cloud brings.

 

Are you interested finding out more about moving your organisation to the cloud?

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