Ask ten people what the term “Cloud Computing” means and you’ll likely get ten different answers.  Let’s define it as the use of computing resources (hardware and/or software) that are delivered as a service over the Internet.

Cloud solutions can play an important role in the success of your company, but like any tool they should be used where they are right for the job at hand.  As with any business need we should look at a variety of solutions and determine which is a good fit based upon the features and costs.  Put another way, we should determine the value of the various options and choose accordingly.

Aside from features and costs we also have the security of cloud solutions to consider.  Some of our clients are adamantly opposed to placing their corporate data in the cloud, which is a valid choice to make.  Others are not concerned in the slightest.  Let’s examine security a bit.

A Brief Look at Security of Cloud Solutions

Many of our clients have heard about “cloud” and some are beginning to use some cloud solutions.  Dropbox is one we see often; it’s a “file sync” tool that provides access to corporate data from any computer or device.  Sometimes users are installing Dropbox on their company PC’s without management’s knowledge.

There are security ramifications with solutions such as Dropbox.  First and foremost, corporate data located in a Dropbox account can be synced to devices outside the control of the company.  Let’s say you allow “Sally” access to a Dropbox account where corporate data is stored, or Sally installs this without your knowledge.  Sally then connects her home PC to the Dropbox account, thus placing a local copy of the data on her personal computer, the same one with which her son uses to visit online gaming sites where viruses are rampant.  A virus is contracted and it infects the corporate data, which is then synced back to Dropbox and then to the corporate computers or servers, thus infecting the entire network, along with every other computer that is syncing that data.

Secondly, let’s say that a few months after being given access to Dropbox Sally is terminated with cause or simply elects to go to work for a competitor.  During her exit interview the company dutifully collects anything belonging to the company, but the company has no way to collect Sally’s home PC where the corporate data still resides.

These are just two examples of why cloud solutions should be scrutinized carefully.