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The Hidden Cost of Free Cloud-Computing

November 29, 2017

The ins and out of cloud computing.Sometimes 9 to 5 doesn’t cut it.

We end up bringing homework that needs to be done outside of normal office hours. Working outside of the office isn’t something new; employees have been doing that for a long time. How we do work outside of the office; however, has changed in recent years.

Back in the day, when you needed to do work at home, you lugged home huge files and perhaps a disk with the needed computer files on it. The next day, you’d lug it all back to the office, upload the new data, and hope you remembered to hit save. Now with cloud-computing, you can place your files into a “cloud” while still at the office and then retrieve them from anywhere and anytime using a pc, laptop, tablet or even your smartphone. Talk about ease of use: The ability to do this is literally pie in the sky for most of us.

Employees within your organization are using cloud-computing for business documents. Knowing that, here’s an important question for you: Are you providing a secure cloud service for your employees to use or are you relying on free services such as DropBox, Google Docs, YouSendIt, etc.? If you’re not, and instead letting your employees use whatever they choose, then let me remind you of the old adage…. Nothing is free. This can certainly be true when referring to “free” cloud-computing sources. They might not cost you an initial outlay, but the risk they can potentially expose your company to can amount to more than just some spare change.

Does the Ease Outweigh the Risk?

There’s no doubt about it — free cloud-computing is easy to use and makes it possible for us to get to data whenever we need it. That’s a given. What’s not a given is whether or not you’ve considered the potential risk. According to the Ponemon Institute, an independent research center that examines privacy, data protection and information-security procedures, most organizations haven’t.

Here are some findings from their December 2012, “State of the Endpoint” security survey of 684 IT and IT-security professionals:

• The lack of an enforceable centralized cloud security policy is putting unstructured confidential information at risk. Forty-five percent of respondents say their organization does not enforce employees’ use of private clouds and 14 percent are unsure.
• Malware attacks are increasing. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say their organizations have more than 25 malware attempts or incidents each month. Another 20 percent are unsure – this is sobering data.

Clouds are an easy access point for hackers and malware to gain access to not only secure files, but also into your networks as well. Unfortunately, when you or employees use free cloud sources, no one is acting as a gatekeeper to know and track what information is being stored there — confidential information, passwords, financial reports, HR files, and on and on. The uploaded documents stored there sit, unprotected, and the company usually doesn’t know what is uploaded; where it is; who put it there; or whether or not the documents are being shared with others. The result is a huge potential risk and liability for your business.

Cloud Use is Growing

Recognize that cloud computing isn’t going away. It’s going to continue to grow in popularity and use. Knowing that also recognize the importance of sitting down and mapping out an action plan for your organization. I’m not going to recommend the service you should use — that’s a business decision to with input from IT Professionals. Also take the time to sit down to measure the need, define the risk, and then strategically seek workable solutions that will make cloud-computing work for your business while reducing potential risk.

If you’d like help in brainstorming possible solutions for your business, please give me a call at 513-721-FILE (3453). I’d welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your staff.