On-site vs cloud data storage: The pros and cons
Organisations rely heavily on information to drive business improvement. Whether their data is big or small, it can be highly sensitive, commercially valuable and critical to ongoing operations.
Companies should be implementing robust data governance strategies to protect their information, just as they would for any other key asset.
It's an unfortunate reality of today's digital world that cybercrime continues to proliferate, with incidents of data disruption and theft increasing the world over.
61 per cent of Australian companies fell victim to ransomware in 2016.
The threat posed by ransomware
Ransomware has emerged to be one of the most frequent forms of cyberattack on both organisations and individuals. In simple terms, this type of attack uses malware to lock a person's computer and then extort money to regain access.
Recently, 16 public libraries in St Louis, Missouri were completely shut down after 700 of their computers were infected by ransomware. According to CNN, the hackers demanded a ransom of US$35,000 in the untraceable electronic currency Bitcoin to restore access. However, the library authority reportedly refused to pay, saying they would wipe their system and "rebuild it from scratch".
Ransomware is a big problem in Australia too. According to a CyberEdge survey, 61 per cent of Australian companies fell victim to ransomware in 2016. Of those affected, 33 per cent paid the ransom to regain access to their data, 54 per cent refused and managed to recover their data, while 13 per cent refused and lost their data.
The CyberEdge report revealed that the percentage of Australian companies being hit by a successful cyberattack has continued to increase steadily over the past few years – 62 per cent in 2014, 70 per cent in 2015, 76 per cent in 2016, and 79 per cent so far in 2017.
It's not surprising that cybersecurity experts are warning Australian business leaders to protect their data.
Cybersecurity experts are warning Australian business leaders to protect their data.
Backing up your data is a smart approach
With this in mind, organisations should be backing up their information to avert a potential disaster if they fall prey to such a cyberattack.
A variety of software applications have been developed that can help companies protect against ransomware. However, the best form of protection is to back up your data.
Matt Sherman, incident responder at Symantec, said it is a prudent approach for managing cybersecurity.
"The fastest way to regain access to your critical files is to have a backup of your data. Backups of data should take place not only for files housed on a server, but also for files that reside locally on a workstation," he said.
Companies can back up their data in various ways, on either traditional physical servers on site or off site on a cloud network.
On site vs off site: where should you keep your data?
Many IT managers struggle when deciding which data protection strategy to employ within their organisation. On- and off-site options each have pros and cons. Here, we outline what these are:
- On site
A major benefit of housing data on a physical server on site is that its owner can control a variety of parameters such as who has access, where it is located and what it is connected to. Such control can help a firm protect its data from cyberattacks.
However, one disadvantage is that on-site servers can be vulnerable to other potential hazards such as theft, fire or natural disasters. The occurrence of any such incidents could put an organisation's data at risk. Another downside is that physical hardware cannot be accessed remotely, a situation that could be inconvenient for some staff.
- Off site
Off-site cloud hosting services offer businesses a simple, cost-effective and efficient solution for data storage. There is no need to invest in expensive hardware on the premises and, with the right software in place, backups can be set to occur automatically.
Signing up for a cloud-based hosting service is usually very easy, involving little more than creating an online account and running through a backup process. It also allows you to scale your requirements up or down as circumstances change. Another important advantage of cloud storage is that it provides the option of remote access – all you need is an internet connection.
The main downside to off-site backup compared with on-site system is related to the lack of owner control and security. It is difficult to know where your service provider is housing your data or if the hardware they are using is well maintained and secured.
Still not sure which option is right for you?
It is vital that a company implements a data protection strategy in line with its needs. If you are unsure about whether an on-site or off-site data hosting solution is best for you, get in touch with the experts at ANATAS. We'll be happy to help.