Microsoft might have seen a drop in revenue and profit, but their cloud and Office services are flourishing. The interest over cloud has increased tenfold over the past 5 years and it’s due to the advantages the service provides. From increased collaboration and workplace flexibility to document control and disaster recovery, the cloud is changing how we get business done. But what is being done about data security?

We’ve seen a barrage of headlines that detail the effects of not having data security (see: TalkTalk’s data breach in November, the hack on Ashley Madison, and Anthem’s medical data breach), but how can we cut these inexcusable breaches?

We take a closer look.

Before you think that securing data is the provider’s responsibility you should know that it’s actually you the firm, that’s responsible and liable (from a legal perspective) to protect your customers’ data. It’s adapt or die with data security so don’t think that having your data in another location makes it safe. Here are a few things you can do to maximise the security of your cloud storage.

Keep Sensitive Information Out

Before you start using the cloud you need to decide how valuable your information is. To what extent do you need to protect each piece of data?

Defining your level of protection will help you create a security strategy. However, the most important thing to remember is sensitive information shouldn’t remain in the cloud. It might sound odd, but storing sensitive information in the cloud increases the chance of a hack/data breach. It might be best to keep such data away from virtual worlds and instead use appropriate offline methods. It’s the only way to ensure data is safe; after all, not all clouds are 100% effective.


Encryption is one of the best ways to protect your information. Before you move a file to the cloud just use software that password-protects it and you’ve instantly increased your security. It might sound simple but it’s effective. Software varies on how much tech ability and budget your business has. Some of the most popular software this year include Folder Lock, BI Free Archiver, and Cypherix’s SecureIT. if you’re a medium sized business looking for security, look into services that provide local encryption and decryption.

Review Your Passwords

It might sound trivial but you must make sure your password protected data actually has stellar passwords; I’m afraid Pa$Sword8″ isn’t going to do the job. Your passwords need to be at least 10 characters long and feature lower and upper case, numbers and special characters. If you think your password is complicated, think again. Even a ten character password only takes 37.61 seconds to crack, but by simply adding a special character you increase this to 2.83 weeks.

The cloud is relatively new and their security solutions can cost a lot, but that doesn’t mean businesses shouldn’t consider them. If your budget is stretched, TechRepublic suggest, “starting over with a solution built specifically for the cloud, adding that cloud-only solutions are flexible enough to scale capacity to meet the needs of the company”.

As more businesses adapt to the cloud, more people believe that it is more secure than tradition software. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Take the vital steps towards data protection today and see a future with a secure cloud and no breaches!