A Note From Paige
This month, I'm pleased to announce that I have hired Kimberly Zwaagstra as Director of Client Services for my firm.
Kimberly will share 20+ years of experience in managing the business operations of small to medium-sized companies in multiple industries. Her specializations in business development, training, and process optimization will contribute to our commitment to serve our clients prompty, efficiently, and professionally.
You asked. We listened. The firm now takes credit cards.
Now, to the topic at hand!
This month's newsletter takes a look at how you can use the Cloud for your business. Below, I'll discuss what the cloud is and how you can use it while protecting your data.
What the Jennifer Lawrence Photo Leak Can Teach You About the Cloud
In April 2013, Forbes reported that more than half of U.S. businesses used cloud computing
. Although the cloud has received some bad press lately thanks to the leak of famous celebrities’ private photos
, it can still be a great resource for your business as long as you use it safely. This month, I will provide some insight into what the cloud is and how your business can use it securely.
What is the Cloud?
The cloud is a centralized location on the Internet that stores data. Unlike traditional software and hardware, applications on the cloud are accessible anywhere that you have an Internet connection—you don’t have to use a specific computer to access your files.
How Can Your Business Use the Cloud?
It’s possible that your business is already using the cloud. Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and iCloud are all forms of cloud-based storage applications. These applications provide an allotment of space in which you can upload, store, and share files.
In addition to cloud storage, your business can use cloud-based programs to carry out day-to-day operations. Here are three more ways that you can use the cloud:
1. Data Back-Up:
In addition to local back-ups of your data, you can back your data up to the cloud. You can use your cloud back-up to restore data if your system or local back-ups fail.
Instead of purchasing and installing software on all of your computers, you can now find software that can be run from the cloud. For example, Microsoft offers Office 365, which allows you to sign into Microsoft Office applications from anywhere in addition to the traditional desktop applications.
3. Offsite Work:
If the resources you need to operate your business are cloud-based, you can run your business from anywhere. You can check in during vacation, and you can stay at home when you’re sick without losing productivity.
How Can I Keep My Files Secure in the Cloud?
Keeping your sensitive and proprietary information secure is of the utmost importance both on a local drive and on the cloud. Although uploading to the cloud does pose a slight risk, you can ensure your data remains secure by taking the following steps:
1. Work with reputable vendors.
Do your homework before purchasing cloud software or storage space to make sure that the vendor is reputable and doesn’t have a history of losing data or being hacked. Reach out to your professional network, your tech-savvy friends, and your IT contacts for recommendations about which services to use. Read reviews, research the terms of service for each vendor, and learn about the security measures each service has in place. Microsoft’s OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive are all reputable data storage services.
2. Use secure passwords and change them periodically.
Your passwords should contain a combination of numbers, capital letters, lowercase letters, and, if possible, symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple applications, and change your passwords every 60-90 days. You should also consider using 2-step verification if the service allows it—this security measure delivers a code to you via email or text message, which you submit along with your password before you can log in. Google’s Gmail service, as an example, provides a 2-step verification option, which I find handy. Finally, consider changing your Security Questions' answers to something nonsensical. Some of these recent celebrity email hacks occurred because the hacker was able to find the answers to these questions with a quick web search.
3. Always log out of shared computers.
If you share a computer with your employees, get in the habit of logging out of your personal accounts before letting them use the computer. Some browsers may keep your session active until they are closed, which could give others access to your sensitive information. Be vigilant about where you’re logged in and who has access to those systems. This same practice especially holds true if you’re at the library or using a computer while waiting at a car dealer or car wash.
Cloud computing can help you increase your productivity by keeping you connected to your business regardless of where you are. Many cloud applications are very cost-effective and offer unprecedented convenience to you and your employees. By doing some research, using reputable services, and being vigilant with your security practices, you can safely integrate the cloud into your everyday business practices.