Data Security Vulnerabilities Of Free Cloud Storage Services

Most businesses don’t even consider data security as a major operational element until an actual data breach has occurred. Businesses which deal with large volumes of confidential data every day should always take a proactive and defensive approach to the data security. Cyber-crime rates have been on the rise ever since the dawn of the 21st century and databases with valuable and sensitive data have become the prime target for cyber-criminals. Businesses worldwide, especially SMBs are quite aware of the current data security scenario and consider it to be their top most priority when choosing a cloud storage provider.

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But the fact of the matter is that many businesses are still opting for free cloud storage services, to save expenditures, and in the process compromise with the security of their valuable data. A recent survey which included more than 300 SMBs using at least one cloud hosted data storage service, 25% of these SMBs confessed that they used free cloud data storage services, while a majority of 71% disclosed that they used professional and paid cloud storage services.

From the same survey, 57% of SMBs which use free cloud storage services admitted to use free cloud storage for storing backups and archived files, compared to the 66% of all SMBS included in the survey. The survey also indicates that more than 28% of the respondent SMBs are also uploading confidential financial records on free cloud storage platforms, 14% are uploading medical data, and 11% are uploading banking information as well.

Riley Panko, from Clutch, states that ‘ignorance towards the reality of cloud storage and security’ is one of the major concerns in the industry today. She also states that “They (businesses/clients) feel confident that their data is safe – until it isn’t. Thus it’s a matter of making sure that you educate your employees in a realistic manner. Every employee should understand the consequences of a data breach of sensitive information.” She also adds that “It’s clear to see that hesitations towards adopting cloud storage are falling away as faith in its security builds. However, this security is only present if employees act accordingly.” You can find her original survey here.

The lack of accountability in terms of user access and is a major concern for businesses using free cloud storage services. Apart from that, employees who have little knowledge of how to enforce data security while using cloud storage services, both paid and free, also pose a great threat to data security on the cloud. In the case of data theft, it usually occurs due to lack of proper oversight, from business owners, IT professionals and the managers or supervisors.

These issues can be easily mitigated by educating employees and clients about the organizational data security protocols and best practices included in general data security. However, the best way to ensure data security on the cloud is to opt for a credible and renowned cloud storage service provider, which has invested a considerable amount of time and resources to strengthen their digital data security measures, including a good firewall, Intrusion Detection Systems, Intrusion Prevention Systems, and many more.

Here are a few pointers which highlight why paid cloud storage services are better than the free ones.

1. Secure access to all licensed business operational programs on the cloud.

2. Secure access to all operational business and accounting software.

3. Monitored and logged cloud hosted service like the exchange of documents, emails, contacts, calendar activities, and many more.

4. Multi-device access, from anywhere and anytime.

With that being said, digital data security is a very volatile subject with cyber attackers coming up with new and creative ways to wriggle their way around data security measures to gain access to confidential business databases. Paid cloud storage service providers are however very much aware of this situation and continuously strive to provide their clients with top-notch data security measures and mitigation controls.

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