According to a recent survey of small and medium business owners and IT decision makers, Canadian businesses are leaving themselves increasingly vulnerable to the loss of data and the potential for a privacy breach despite a series of high-profile incidents in which confidential information on company servers have been compromised.
The revelations come from a recent survey commissioned by Primus Business Services, a PTGi company, which shows nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) of participating small and medium businesses in Canada invest less than 10 per cent of their budgets in data security despite the fact that a comparable percentage agree that they are concerned with the security and integrity of their business data.
In addition, Canada’s SMB owners and IT decision makers polled remain confused about the benefits and security of cloud computing, misperceiving it as less secure than maintaining servers in their own offices.
Half of respondents reported being concerned with the security of hosting in the cloud with 40 per cent of those who are concerned noting they would feel more secure if cloud services had full unified threat management/firewall protection and/or if the cloud was a single-tenant environment while 48 per cent listed around-the-clock management and alerting as a key factor in quelling their anxieties.
Although respondents were concerned about the security of their data, 74 per cent claim to not currently have secure off-site storage for their critical business data, and 72 per cent of respondents do not currently monitor or manage their data on a 24×7 basis. This means that a significant portion of the data residing in the Canadian SMBs that participated in the study continues to be at risk with limited investment being made to both retain and secure it.
AJ Byers, Executive Vice President of Primus Business Services notes that while IT decision makers continue to question cloud computing due to concerns of lack of control and misperceptions related to data security, the reality of cloud computing is that it offers greater protection than what most companies are deploying in their offices today. “Our public and private cloud computing platforms have been designed with enterprise grade security, failover, and disaster recovery technologies that are far more advanced than the standard firewall and server protection that most small and mid-market companies are investing in to protect both their own, and customer data.”
The study found the overwhelming majority of businesses polled are not hosting their data in the cloud as just over 1 in ten (14%) use the technology.
Surprisingly, more than half of businesses polled have not invested in the most advanced security solutions and two-thirds (63%) have not worked with an IT security firm to audit their security practices. This seems alarming as the study’s findings come after years of privacy breaches at a number of high-profile organizations in the retail, financial services and public service sectors.
Despite misconceptions about cloud computing for business, there is a unanimous and growing need for robust data protection, particularly in an environment of extreme natural occurrences and nefarious hacking breaches.
Businesses seeking to enhance their data and IT security infrastructures in 2012 should seek cloud computing partners who offer the following scalable technologies and services:
- A cloud firewall is specifically designed to protect cloud servers and offer a fully unified threat management approach to securing the user’s environment. Some key security features include:
- Network security: Fully integrated features such as a configurable firewall paired with an Intrusion Protection system, Denial of Service protection, traffic forwarding, VPN support and other security tools.
- Application security:
- Email security: Protects users from email abuses including spam, viruses and privacy issues. Through this application, real messages are properly delivered and employees can find what they need without being exposed to damaging content.
- Web security: Protects employees from threats and allows businesses to apply terms and conditions to where and how employees can spend their time online. Spyware and viruses are stopped before they can enter the network and cause damage. Everything is tracked and arranged in detailed reports, which show how effective each company’s policy is so adjustments can be made.
- 24 x 7 cloud management is critical. Look for a team of certified experts that will work around the clock to manage as much or as little of the cloud environment as required. Choose a provider that has experience offering cloud readiness assessments and performing physical to cloud migrations.
- To improve business continuity, select a cloud backup service. This service can provide data centre and cloud computing clients with enterprise level data protection and business continuity in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
“Cloud computing is still a relative enigma, but its inherit security, cost and most importantly, time management benefits, will imminently bring it into the mainstream of Canadian business,” says Matt Stein, Sr. VP of Network, Technology and Planning at Primus Canada. “However, it is critical that business decision makers look for providers that offer enterprise quality operational, management and security procedures in a truly scalable model.”