Overcoming the Fear of the “Cloud”

For almost all modern businesses, there is a need to provide services, manufacture and sell goods at the highest level of efficiency and profitability.  That requires businesses to rely on technology and digital communication to a greater degree than ever before. 

While some businesses welcome technology with open arms, many others are skeptical and cautious with its use and integration in their business.  One of the greatest examples of this is the “cloud”.  The cloud, of course, is simply a convenient way of referring to accounts, data storage mediums and some software as a service (“SaaS”) applications that are accessible through the internet. 

Most people are familiar with Gmail, Outlook and Dropbox, which are some of the better known cloud services available amongst most consumers.  They are accessible everywhere and through a variety of device platforms from PC/laptop to mobile devices and smartphones.

Using cloud services allows most businesses to communicate and share data within its organization and with customers and clients more efficiently and effectively.  This, in turn, reduces costs and ought to generate more revenue in the end.

So why are some reluctant to embrace cloud technology that provides so many benefits?

From my experience, the most significant obstacle seems to be fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of having sensitive communication and data “out there in the air”, as some put it. 

Overcoming this fear requires an understanding that cloud services are safe and come with a great deal of readily accessible security features that make their use highly secure.  Access to cloud services require users to login remotely using unique user identification and passwords.  User identifications generally take the form of an email address and passwords generally require a minimum level of strength to make it difficult to allow an unauthorized person to access the cloud account.

If and when there is an unauthorized intrusion, it is generally an avoidable scenario if the user had availed themselves of better security practices such as a strong and unique password (i.e., don’t use the same password for multiple online accounts) and enabling two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication is a tool to ensure that cloud accounts are not accessed even if the password to the account is compromised.  How it works is that when a new device connects to the cloud account for the first time, a unique code is sent to the user’s smartphone or email account.  The new login will not be allowed unless that code is entered.  This dramatically increases the security of a cloud account.

To take two-factor authentication further and to a whole new level of security, users can deploy authentication apps, such as the ones provided by Google and Microsoft.  These apps generate unique codes every 30 seconds (or other customizable time frames), work even when your device is offline and often notify you to simply approve a sign-in request rather than input the authentication code.  See the following image of my Microsoft Authenticator app for reference:

 

As you can see, I use this app to authenticate sign-ins for my Microsoft cloud accounts and social media.  It is secure and convenient and I highly recommend it.

But wait, if you’re still reading this and paying attention, you’re probably wondering what happens if you drop your smartphone in a lake or it gets run over and you can’t access the authenticator app right?  Well, the developers thought ahead and offer a solution at the time of setup.  Users are provided with a list of permanent, hard codes to access the accounts.  It’s very important that these lists are downloaded or printed and kept in a safe and secure location in the event that you need them later.

So, rather than fear the cloud, I encourage everyone to embrace it.  It’s here to stay.  It’s safe and secure and users can elevate the security of cloud accounts through good security practices and authenticator apps.

BIO:  Tyler Hatch is a former practicing litigation lawyer and the founder and CEO of DFI Forensics Inc., a Sky Northern Alliance member and a digital forensics and incident response firm with offices in Vancouver, Langley, Calgary and Toronto.  For more information, contact Tyler at info@skynorthern.com