Cloud-Based Data Security Gives SMBs One Less Thing to Worry AboutOctober 17, 2013 No Comments
Featured Article by Cam Roberson, Director of the Reseller Channel, Beachhead Solutions
You own a small business – or maybe you’re planning to start one. The checklist of tasks you have to complete to get everything up and running (or ensure they keep running) is longer than an overzealous kid’s Christmas list. Complying with government regulations, overseeing the finances, taking advantage of tax credits, setting up an office, establishing a website, hiring employees, laying down procedures and policies … the list goes on. And we haven’t even reached the most pressing aspect of your venture – namely, running the business itself.
It’s certainly understandable that data security might be near the bottom of that very long list; maybe it’s just above keeping the break room stocked. Still, data breaches can mean big trouble for companies both large and small. Compromised data security can bring sanctions and/or fines from government agencies, and can undermine a company’s competitive advantage.
Nor is it getting any easier to keep data safe. There have never been more threats to data security than in our modern computing world, with both devices and data itself spread more diffusely than ever before across terrain and networks. Simple password protection doesn’t cut it anymore; encryption is often no match for the hacker who gets his hands on a stolen laptop or flash drive. And passwords certainly don’t do much to prevent a terminated employee from accessing corporate data stored on the company laptop still in his possession.
It’s easy to see why many owners of small-to-midsized businesses view comprehensive data protection as a task that only large enterprises are up to. Many managers meet the challenge by employing what I like to call the “fingers-crossed” method of securing data: “My company simply doesn’t have the resources or the time to figure out how to protect all these devices, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that they remains secure.”
Other managers rely on employees to protect the data on the devices they use. These machines are in the employee’s possession, after all; heck, in some cases, devices with sensitive company information stored on them may even belong to the employee. But when it comes down to it, it’s the managers of a corporation – rather than the employee who lost the compromised device – who are held responsible by law enforcement for data leaks. And it’s the managers, not the employees, who suffer when their ideas or plans are lifted.
What’s a small-business owner to do?
Building a comprehensive internal IT system from scratch is a non-starter for any company that’s not a major enterprise; we can cross that one off the list.
Adopting license-based software that enables a company to manage data security may seem like a more palatable choice, but often that’s not much better. These packages come with hidden costs, not the least of which is the heavy workload required of the IT department to implement and oversee them. These solutions may make sense for a large corporation, but they’re generally too much for SMBs to handle (I remember one customer likening a license-based data security system he once tried to implement to a “5,000-piece Lego set with no instructions”).
Fortunately, there’s an alternative – an option that gives owners of small-to-midsized businesses enterprise-level sophistication without entailing enterprise-level cost. I’m referring to cloud-based data security subscription services, be they as a standalone product or packaged up through a managed service provider (which oftentimes can make the most sense for smaller, IT-strapped organizations). These services allow companies to centrally manage data on all devices employees use. They provide a range of functions that protect against theft of data from mobile devices, as well as from computers. Managers can eliminate data from a device if it’s stolen, quarantine data if it’s lost, or revoke authentication if a device goes missing.
While the sophistication may be enterprise-level, most of these offerings are specifically tailored to small-to-midsized businesses, requiring little to no oversight by internal IT departments. The systems often have the capability to grow with the company, allowing managers to add more complexity as their needs change – for example, customizing security measures to suit different work groups or device types. The business owners I know find that to be a much more palatable alternative to creating a system they hope their business will grow into later.
SMBs often find cloud-based data security systems to be more affordable, easier to use, and more flexible than the alternatives. In short, these systems allow businesses to stop worrying about whether their data’s secure, and get back to the task at hand: building and operating a business.
Cam Roberson is the Director of the Reseller Channel for Beachhead Solutions, a company that designs cloud-managed mobile device security tools.
CLOUD COMPUTING, Fresh Ink