More and more businesses are moving their storage to the cloud rather than keeping on-premises servers. There are a number of benefits to doing so, but one of the major concerns many have is security. How can you continue to maintain strong security without an on-premises server? While it may seem like you’re giving up some control over security by moving to remote storage, you may be surprised to learn that you can do so without compromising on any security features.
Why Eliminate Your On-Premises Server?
First, why should you eliminate your on-premises server? There are several benefits to doing so. Moving to the cloud eliminates the need to set aside space for your servers. You also reduce the costs of your utilities and personnel. The company maintaining your servers also handles their maintenance and upgrades, eliminating the need to purchase new hardware.
Clouds also typically have multiple backups, so the data is mirrored to other drives even if your server were to go down. This reduces or eliminates downtime, ensuring your network is always available when you and your customers need it. The cloud can give you the reliability you need while reducing costs. Is it beneficial to your security, though? Can remote servers continue to provide the protection you require, or will you have to compromise there?
Physical Server Security
There are several different types of IT security you need to fully protect your servers. The first is physical security. You need to make the appropriate personnel can only access certain your hardware. If you have servers on-site, that can be tricky. With small businesses, all personnel are usually in the same building. While you may have security in place that prevents unauthorized people from entering at least part of the building, employees often have access to everything beyond this point. They could enter the server room if they wanted.
You may also allow other vendors into this area. For example, contractors may be free to enter the secure parts of your office. Those making deliveries may also have access. In some cases, you may even bring customers beyond the secure points. All of this leaves your server vulnerable. All of your IT staff likely have access to the server room, too, even if they don’t necessarily need it. Some may even work out of this space and have unrestricted and unmonitored access to the hardware at all times.
This is not the case with moving to the cloud. Cloud server farms are very secure. Only specific employees can enter the server rooms and perform maintenance on the servers. Vendors and other employees are not allowed into the area at all. Since there’s no need for customers to visit the server farms, their access to the hardware isn’t a concern. The entire server farm is secured through multiple checkpoints and security methods, so physical security is never compromised.
Software and Network Security
The second security concern is with your software. Viruses, malware, and hackers are always lurking about trying to bypass firewalls and other security systems. You could lose proprietary information and personal client data without strong data protection. This can significantly damage your company’s profits and your reputation.
Handling your on-site server security, yourself puts your IT team under a lot of stress. They not only have to handle all of their other responsibilities, but they also have to continually research the latest in security trends, virus protection, and malware detection. They have to monitor your network for invasive activity and take action to stop it, even if it occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekends. This can be a full-time job in itself, but most IT departments don’t have a large amount of manpower or budget to allocate to it.
This often results in one of two things. Either your IT team focuses on security to the detriment of other parts of your company, or they focus on the rest of their duties and allow your IT security to take a backseat. Both can be very detrimental to your business.
Moving to the cloud and eliminating your on-premises server removes this choice. Your on-site IT team can now focus on providing the support your business needs to grow and move forward without worrying that they are not devoting enough resources to security.
On the other hand, the cloud host can focus purely on server maintenance and security. Because their focus is on protecting your data from viruses and malware, they can devote a significant number of resources to that goal. They monitor your network, update appliances, and operating systems as needed, and are ready to respond to any threat. They can provide better IT business security because they don’t have to split their focus.
User Access and Security
The third area of security that you need to be concerned with is who has access to your network. Users should only be able to access the data and applications that are required to do their job. If they have access to other parts of your network, there is the potential that they will misuse that access. It’s also possible that their account could be hacked and used to steal data.
When securing your on-site server, your IT staff will need to create multiple user roles and assign specific access to each role. Every new employee will need to be assigned the correct role, and former employees will need to have their access revoked immediately.
Again, the leading security issue comes from overworking your in-house IT staff. They may not have time to set up roles correctly, and they may also not have time to add employees to the correct roles. Sometimes, it may seem easier to simply give someone full access to everything because it’s faster. If your IT staff is very shorthanded, it may even take some time to deactivate old accounts.
Another issue is monitoring the system. Your in-house team may not have the time or the right tools to track employee access. It’s possible an account could be compromised and used to repeatedly access secure data without anyone noticing.
By outsourcing to the cloud, this will not be an issue. Roles will be created and updated as necessary. New employees will be placed in the right roles and removed as soon as you notify the server administrator. Likewise, these administrators will have the tracking tools in place to collect information about potential security threats. When an account begins acting out of character or attempting to access secure information, they will report to you. This can help you identify and take action against hacked accounts more quickly.
How to Move from On-Premises Servers to the Cloud
However, while it’s true that cloud servers can be more secure than on-premises servers, that doesn’t mean that every server host is the same. You will want to make sure you’re moving to the right cloud. You also need to ensure that you’re prepared to make the move. Data protection starts with migrating to the server. If this move isn’t handled correctly, it can leave you open to attack.
Selecting the Right Host
The first step in eliminating your on-premises server and moving into the cloud is to find the right host. You want to look at their server up-time, their backup strategy, how often they perform maintenance, and, of course, the cost. Ideally, you’ll want a host that has server farms in several physical locations. This ensures that if a natural disaster hits one area, backup servers elsewhere will not be affected by the same issue. You want your cloud server to have as much redundancy as possible.
Before signing, make sure you understand what the hosting company will do and what options you have. Talk about the transfer process and how your company’s security will be maintained through the process. The hosting company should provide you with a timetable and any assistance you need in making the migration.
Preparing to Migrate to the Cloud
Your new cloud server host should handle most of the technical aspects of the migration and should give you detailed instructions for anything you need to do on your side. Beyond that, the most significant change may involve how your employees access data and applications. In some cases, there may not be any changes visible to your team or your customers. In other cases, you may need to have a training session or two to ensure everyone understands how your cloud server functions and what they need to do to access data.
Your IT department will also need to learn their new role in the company. They may be able to transition into a more support-based role, or they may be able to start working on special projects. Be sure you have a plan for them so that these experts don’t feel like they no longer have value or a purpose.
Wooden Spoon Managed IT Services is Here to Keep Your Data Secure
Moving to the right hosting can be difficult, and you want to make sure your security is never compromised. If you’re ready to leave beyond your on-premises server and move to the cloud, Wooden Spoon Managed IT Services is here to assist you. We’ll make the process as easy as possible, plus ensure that your data is safe and secure. Contact us today to discuss your IT needs.