In recent years, more small businesses and self-employed professionals have used public cloud services for data storage. Many found cloud options to be a cost-effective alternative to investing in an on-premises device. According to ITProPortal contributor Richard Eglon, Dropbox alone has approximately 175 million users. However, data security and availability concerns have persisted since the beginning. Unlike an on-site solution, cloud storage prevents business owners from retaining full control of their information. Storing business data on a remote, networked server creates the possibility that sensitive information can be accessed by cybercriminals or other unauthorized parties. These fears were realized when details regarding the U.S. government's PRISM program came to light. Federal agents covertly collected massive amounts of digital data belonging to numerous American citizens. The scandal has led many business owners and leaders to reconsider how safe information stored in the cloud really is.
A recent report issued by consultancy firm Deloitte found that many executive officers expressed concern about the level of data security present with cloud file storage options. Researchers concluded that if an organization opts to utilize cloud storage solutions, then business leaders should consider which information is too sensitive to entrust to a third party and should be stored onsite.
These fears are just as relevant to small businesses as they are to large enterprises, although larger corporations can weather instances of data loss much more easily than a small organization can. The various costs of a data breach, including direct financial loss, brand erosion and regulatory non-compliance penalties, can bury a small business. If business owners choose to store their data in the cloud, they should also leverage data archiving solutions to maintain a backup of all sensitive and mission-critical information. This way, even if cloud data is lost, businesses can still access that information and continue operations unabated. A disc-based solution would also allow owners to scale their backup initiatives up or down as they see fit, either making duplicates of only the most important files or archiving the business' entire data base.