Data is the lifeblood of many a modern business, but outsourcing the storage of your critical data can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it will be more convenient to place your data in a cloud-based environment, making storage more affordable while enabling remote access to it when you are out of the office. On the other hand, you may not know exactly where information is being stored and how the physical location of the servers affects the rights, privileges and regulations which govern it. This can cause a number of problems.
In a study conducted on behalf of Varonis Systems earlier this year, it was found that 67 per cent of people in senior management positions do not actually have any clue where their business data are kept.
Perhaps equally as worrying is the fact that 74 per cent of those questioned said that they had no means of determining and managing which information is being stored remotely on external platforms, meaning that tracking it is nearly impossible.
Information that is placed outside the remit of a firm is not just at risk due to jurisdictional issues, but also faces the threat of misuse and misappropriation by malicious agents either acting deliberately or taking advantage of employee carelessness in an age when smartphones and tablets are also significant sources of data storage.
Part of the current issue seems to be not just the fact that businesses do not know where data are being stored, but that they do not know who is accessing information and how it is being used once it has been transferred on to other devices outside of the internal network.
Employees are taking advantage of mainstream cloud-based file transfer and synchronisation services in order to keep their data accessible and make them convenient to work on while travelling. Just 9 per cent of respondents to the study said that they had instigated projects that allow them to examine how such services are being used and where the information ends up.
Meanwhile, 68 per cent said that they do not have plans to tackle this issue, which means that slipping data out of a business and using them for unscrupulous purposes will be relatively easy in the majority of cases.
Interestingly, while the cloud seems to be at fault here, most of the businesses which took part in the study recognise that it also holds the key to the solution.
78 per cent said that they were happy with their current permissions set-up and would like to offer data storage and synchronisation capabilities equivalent to that of the cloud to employees so that the temptation to use third-party platforms is made less appealing.
Meanwhile, 57 per cent said that allowing employees to bring their personal devices and use them at work was acceptable as long as secure access could be granted to in-house systems, allowing for data sharing and synchronisation that is both safe and secure.
Varonis spokesperson David Gibson said that the study identified issues within many businesses that involved the management of data in a modern, interconnected world. He said that businesses which expressed indifference towards setting up data tracking to manage the use of the cloud would be putting themselves in an untenable position when considering the number of potential security pitfalls and embarrassing disasters that could occur.
Mr Gibson said that supporting cloud collaboration was important, but that doing so in a secure manner was the only way for businesses to behave responsibly. This is clearly something that will take work, but experts believe that this can help avoid future problems that could prove to be more troubling and expensive.
This article was written by Daisy Group plc a leading provider of business hosting and data storage solutions for over twelve years. Daisy provides Cloud Computing, Managed hosting and data storage and big data solutions to corporate, public sector and enterprise companies across the UK.
Our Tier 3 data centres in Manchester, London, Jersey and Southampton provide 24/7 support 365 making Daisy are the natural choice for business looking for secure hosting solutions.